The Mets offense will go as their power bats go. First base coach Ruben Amaro can work tirelessly at drills, but that is not going to transform this into a team that can manufacture runs. The bullpen will be a lot better if the Mets get 2015 Jeurys Familia, not 2017. Still – barring the dramatic and traumatic – the Mets will have by far the second-best bullpen in New York and not one of the best in the sport. Of course, the Mets need strong offense and positive relief and their defense not to kill them. But – yet again – for better or worse they will probably go how their rotation goes. Let’s begin here: If they get 60 starts from Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, the Mets should at least be wild-card contenders, such is that duo’s excellence. But like the NBA, the real key to contention is a Big Three. Last season six teams had at least three starters with a Wins Above Replacement of 3.0 (Baseball Reference version) each, signifying an above-average season. All six – the Indians (who had five), Diamondbacks (who had four), Red Sox, Rockies, Brewers and Nationals — won at least 86 games and all but Milwaukee made the playoffs. For the purposes of this exercise take the leap that deGrom’s lower back injury is as minor as he and the team are stating and that he and Syndergaard will make 60 starts. Who do you like best to complete a Big Three? The safest bet is Jason Vargas, who had a 3.8 WAR last year. But that was a career-best at age 34. The veteran lefty is mainly as a no-excuses, innings-eating stabilizer.
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