Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo


Coleman: Mets Break Camp Believing They Can Shock The World

Many Hitters Had Strong Springs, Pitchers Mostly Healthy

Ed Coleman
March 27, 2018 - 8:33 am

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (WFAN) — Monday's intrasquad game is history. Seth Lugo is your fifth starter. Phillip Evans is your 25th man. The Mets are ready to break camp and get the 2018 season underway, starting Thursday afternoon against St. Louis at Citi Field.

The Mets finished spring training with a record of 10-18-3, which just happened to be the worst mark in the Grapefruit League.  That doesn't really matter, but what does is that they're healthy, especially the pitchers.  

They have a great 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation in Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, or "Syndergrom,” as they've been tabbed. 

After a rough first two starts this spring, Steven Matz settled down, allowing just four earned runs over his last four starts, pitching to a 1.96 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 18 innings.

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Matt Harvey was fairly consistent throughout, and when he did have a rough inning, he self-corrected well. 

Lugo, who made all but one of his seven appearances in relief, was very effective, with 17 strikeouts and just three walks in 15 2/3 innings. He’s stretched out enough to fill in for the sidelined Jason Vargas and go five or six innings.

Vargas is not far off after having surgery to remove the hamate bone from his non-pitching hand. He's on the DL, as is outfielder Michael Conforto, but Conforto is probably ready to go now. He's looked great at the plate down here, and his shoulder is strong and has held up well. But the Mets want him to get some more innings in the field and more reps at the plate, and that’s not a bad idea.

Conforto should be able to be activated for the first road game, the Nationals' home opener in Washington, on April 5. That sure beats the projected return date of May 1.  Conforto, by the way, homered in Monday’s intrasquad game.

For what it's worth, several players had good springs at the plate. Yoenis Cespedes blasted six home runs in just 34 at-bats. Jay Bruce hit .310 with three homers. Wilmer Flores had three long balls as well and batted .320. Young shortstop Amed Rosario hit .313 with eight RBIs. And Brandon Nimmo was outstanding — six doubles, two triples, three homers, a .984 OPS and team-high 11 RBIs.

Manager Mickey Callaway was quite pleased the way spring camp progressed. He had some interesting observations on his two catchers — Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki — and how he might implement them.  

“They have different things to offer at the plate,” Callaway said. “They're very similar behind the plate when they catch. Now, this could change when we see them more — and we have to think about day game after night game — but I think I'm going to lean more towards what can our catchers do offensively against the opposing pitcher.  

“I know what d’Arnaud can cover, I know what Plawecki can cover at the plate and what their strengths are, and I think we're going to try and take advantage of that in the matchup versus the pitcher that's pitching against us that night. It kind of makes sense to me since they're so similar defensively."

Callaway also feels this team is ready to win for one big reason.  

"I think they feel they have something to prove because things didn't go their way last year,” the first-year manager said. “And when you get a team full of guys that have really good talent and they work hard, and feel like they have something to prove, then you can go do something special and shock some people. So I think that's where we're at."

Harvey, after completing three innings in Monday's intrasquad game, spoke strongly about the Mets' chances.

“We're going to be really good,” he said. “So I think we're going to shock a lot of people, and it's going to be a lot of fun."  

Callaway concurred.

“We have the personnel. We have everything in place right now going into the season that we want. We're in a really good spot. I think we can definitely shock some people."