As the Mets look to take the next step, the ZiPS projections for the 2020 season are bullish on their chances.
The annual projections from Dan Szymborski/FanGraphs see a dominant season coming from Edwin Diaz, another tremendous year from Pete Alonso (43 homers and a .551 slugging percentage), and a bounceback from Noah Syndergaard coming.
Their projections for Robinson Cano (.260/.316/.405 triple slash) and Brandon Nimmo (a slugging percentage of just .420) are not as rosy.
While projecting a bounceback season from Diaz and discussing his home run and BABIP rates from 2019, Szymborski writes that "based on the advanced hit data, ZiPS doesn't think Diaz ought to have fared this poorly in either stat last season."
On the surface, Diaz was dismal in 2019, allowing 15 home runs in just 58.0 innings while posting a 5.59 ERA. But a look at some of the advanced numbers tell a different story.
Diaz had a 4.51 FIP/3.07 xFIP in 2019, struck out a still-elite 15.36 batters per nine innings (a better rate than his breakout campaign in 2018), and stranded runners at about the same rate he has during his career.
While he was serving up an obscene amount of home runs in 2019, Diaz was also often dealing with an almost complete inability to harness his slider. That issue was due in part to lowered seams, an issue that could be improved before next season.
For the 2020 season, ZiPS has Diaz resembling his 2018 self much more than his 2019 self, with a 2.98 ERA (2.77 FIP) and 105 strikeouts in 66.3 innings. His home run rate in 2020 is projected to be 1.2 per 9 IP after coming in at a brutal 2.33 per 9 IP in 2019.
ZiPS also anticipates a bounceback season for Jeurys Familia, who they project will have a 3.66 ERA.
The ZiPS numbers for 2020 came out before the signing of Dellin Betances, but it's hard to imagine the Mets' bullpen in 2020 not being a strength if the reality for Diaz and Familia comes close to matching the projections.
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said before the signing of Betances that the team's internal projection systems showed expected improvements for Diaz and Familia in 2020.
As far as Syndergaard is concerned, ZiPS projects him to have a 3.33 ERA while striking out 9.5 per 9 in 2020. That would mean an ERA improvement of nearly a full run from 2019 and Syndergaard having his best strikeout rate since 2017.
Syndergaard pitched better in 2019 than his numbers indicate, with his 3.60 FIP being more representative of his performance than his ERA. So a rebound being projected for him in 2020 shouldn't come as a surprise.
To see the full 2020 ZiPS projections for the Mets, including how Yoenis Cespedes is expected to fare as he tries to come back from nearly two years on the shelf and what Szybmorski thinks of pitching prospect David Peterson, click here.