Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The coronavirus pandemic has led to the shuttering of all the major sports leagues, and most people in the United States and around the world are practicing social distancing in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Spring training is shuttered as players on the Mets and other teams continue to prepare for the season either at their home team's spring training complex (without group workouts) or elsewhere.
With MLB recently pushing back the start of the regular season from the earliest-possible date of April 9 (which was pushed from March 26) to at least the second week of May, things are very much in flux. But MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said earlier this week that the hope is to still play as close to 162 games as possible.
When things get back to some semblance of normal and baseball returns, the Mets' Opening Day 26-man roster will probably look much different than it would've had the season started on March 26...
Wilson Ramos, C
Pete Alonso, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Amed Rosario, SS
Jeff McNeil, 3B
J.D. Davis, LF
Brandon Nimmo, CF
Michael Conforto, RF
Before spring training was suspended, the Mets were almost certainly looking at a situation where Michael Conforto (who had recently suffered a grade 1 oblique strain) would not be there. And with the tricky nature of oblique injuries, there was a chance Conforto would miss much more than just Opening Day.
Now, it's fair to pencil Conforto in for an Opening Day that's in the second week of May or after, with him having at least two months to get over an injury that is usually behind players in six weeks on the long end.
The extra time will also give J.D. Davis the ability to not have to cram tons of at-bats into a short span after returning from his shoulder injury.
One constant since our earliest roster predictions has been the starting rotation.
Despite Luis Rojas not willing to commit on the record to anyone beyond Jacob deGrom being in there, it has been known since the offseason that deGrom, Syndergaard, Stroman, and Porcello would take four of the five slots.
With the Mets not open to using a six-man rotation, it means they'll have to choose between Steven Matz and Michael Wacha, who were both pitching very well when spring training was shut down.
And Matz, who has had back-to-back solid seasons while remaining relatively healthy, should be an easy choice.
Yoenis Cespedes, OF
Jake Marisnick, OF
Luis Guillorme, INF
Dominic Smith, 1B/OF
Tomas Nido, C
As is the case with Conforto, there is a very slim chance Yoenis Cespedes would've been ready to go had the season started on March 26.
Cespedes, who had advanced to running at full speed to first base, taking live batting practice, and shagging fly balls in the outfield, needed to clear the hurdle of being able to run around the bases and go full speed in the outfield before entering games. At the time spring training shut down, Cespedes thought he was about a week away from doing so.
With the extra time, it's fair to believe that Cespedes -- who has been working diligently since November -- will be ready to go on Opening Day if he avoids any setbacks.
Potentially having Cespedes from Day 1 could be a boon for the Mets, who would have a pretty strong and versatile bench in that scenario -- Cespedes, two superb defenders (Jake Marisnick and Luis Guillorme), a strong hitter who can play first base and the outfield (Dominic Smith), and Tomas Nido over Rene Rivera.
Like Conforto and Cespedes, Dellin Betances will likely benefit from the delayed season, with him having at least six extra weeks to build his velocity up to where it needs to be.
Before spring training was shuttered, Edwin Diaz had put together strong back-to-back outings, and Jeurys Familia was also looking sharp. Along with Betances, those two will help anchor a back end of the bullpen that will also feature Swiss Army knife Seth Lugo.
As far as the rest of the bullpen, barring injury, the only question has been whether Matz or Wacha would be the final member. And for us, the answer is Wacha.