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MLB season preview: Mets pitchers are healthy and expectations are sky high

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What’s that saying? With great pitching comes great expectations?

OK, maybe that’s not exactly it, but that sure is the gist of the season for the 2017 New York Mets, who lost in the wild-card game last season after their 2015 World Series run. There’s no shame in losing that wild-card game. The Mets went through so many pitching injuries last season that it’s a wonder they made the postseason. If they’d advanced any further, it would’ve been Noah Syndergaard and Bartolo Colon leading their rotation.

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That brings us to the bad news and the good news for 2017: Bartolo is gone, off to Atlanta to be another team’s treasure. But the other Mets pitchers, they appear to be back. Also back are the big expectations. The sky is the limit for a team with Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom and Matt Harvey. Some of the injury questions persist, sure, like whether Harvey still has his velocity or whether Syndergaard’s elbow is still OK. So we’ll watch those things, plus David Wright’s health.

No team in baseball is immune from injuries, that’s a part of the game. No team in baseball also has a starting-pitching ceiling as high as the Mets. And you’ll probably take the former if you can get the latter.

ADDITIONS & SUBTRACTIONS
Additions
: N/A
Subtractions: Bartolo Colon, James Loney

Well, this is awkward. The Mets didn’t make any major additions during the offseason. Sure, players like Tom Gorzelanny and Ben Rowan were added, but both figure to provide minor-league depth. That doesn’t mean the Mets are hopeless, though. Their biggest move of the offseason doesn’t technically apply. Re-signing Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t count as an addition since he was with the club last year. It’s a huge move, obviously, and one that we can’t simply ignore. On top of that, the Mets are hoping to have Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler back and fully healthy after all four players dealt with injuries in 2016. It’s not yet clear whether Wheeler will be ready for opening day. Getting any of them for a full season is better than any addition the Mets could have made in the offseason. (Chris Cwik)

A big question for the Mets: What will they get out of Matt Harvey in 2017? (AP)
A big question for the Mets: What will they get out of Matt Harvey in 2017? (AP)

KEY PLAYER
There aren’t a lot of expectations of Matt Harvey going into 2017. He had an abysmal 2016 season which ended in July when he had surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome. His injury helped explain why he never really looked right last year, and what the Mets want is for him to get back to 2015 Matt Harvey. Or 2013 Matt Harvey, pre-Tommy John surgery. There have been concerns this spring about Harvey’s velocity being down, so that’s something to watch as the season begins.

Even though they showed they can contend without Harvey, it would be so much easier for them to do it with him. The Mets’ season doesn’t rest on Harvey’s return to form, but if he doesn’t there are some tough decisions to make down the road. (Liz Roscher)

PROJECTED LINEUP & ROTATION
Lineup

1. Jose Reyes, 3B (.267/.326/.443, 8 HR, 24 RBI)
2. Curtis Granderson, CF(.237/.335/.464, 30 HR, 59 RBI, 88 R)
3. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (.280/.354/.530, 32 HR, 86 RBI)
4. Jay Bruce, RF (.250/.309/.506, 33 HR, 99 RBI, 74 R)
5. Neil Walker, 2B (.282/.347/.476, 23 HR, 55 RBI)
6. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS (.280/.336/.474, 23 HR, 62 RBI)
7. Lucas Duda, 1B (.229/.302/.412, 7 HR, 23 RBI)
8. Travis d’Arnaud, C (.247/.307/.323, 4 HR, 15 RBI)

Rotation
1. Noah Syndergaard (14-9, 2.60 ERA, 183.2 IP, 218 K)
2. Jacob deGrom (7-8. 3.04 ERA, 148 IP, 143 K)
3. Matt Harvey (4-10, 4.86 ERA, 92.2 IP, 76 K)
4. Zack Wheeler (11-11, 3.54 ERA, 185.1 IP, 187 K)
5. Robert Gsellman (4-2, 2.42 ERA, 44.2 IP, 42 K)

Yoenis Cespedes is back with the Mets after signing another big contract. (AP)
Yoenis Cespedes is back with the Mets after signing another big contract. (AP)

BEST-CASE SCENARIO
They don’t need 30 starts from each of their five starting pitchers, but if they’re all healthy come August the Mets will be in good shape. The offense might need a boost at the trade deadline, but there’s potential here for 90 wins, a division championship and much more if the rotation holds up. (Mark Townsend)

WORST-CASE SCENARIO
They’re forced to call up Tim Tebow! Trust us, it won’t get that desperate, but there are some concerning possibilities surrounding the health of key players, particularly in the starting rotation. If the arms can’t stay healthy, if David Wright never gets right and if Michael Conforto doesn’t take a step forward, the Mets will finish over .500 but fall to the fringe of playoff contention. (Townsend)

PRESSING FANTASY QUESTION
Q: What’s the story down on the hot corner?
Jose Reyes played pretty well after joining the Mets in early July, finishing the final three months of the ’16 campaign as a borderline top 70 offensive player in roto leagues. His 162-game pace was for 21.6 home runs, 24.3 steals and 121.5 runs. So it’s clear that the 33-year-old still offers intrigue if he can find his way into more regular playing time, something that could very well happen at third base, where David Wright is trying to stave off back issues and hold things down in ’17, something he hasn’t managed to do since ’14 – he’s played less than 40 games each of the past two seasons. Coming off of neck surgery, Wright is just starting to partake in the simplest of baseball activities (playing catch), which is to say he remains a major question mark heading into the spring.

[Elsewhere: Read more pressing fantasy questions about the Mets]

The Mets also have a considerable question mark at first base in Lucas Duda, who has been fighting back issues for the past couple seasons and was limited to just 47 games last season. With that in mind, in addition to Wright’s health, there has been some thought to giving Wright some time at first base in ’17. All of this is to say that there’s a very good chance Reyes, who can also fill-in at shortstop and even second base (in a pinch), ends up with something close to 500 at-bats, especially if he proves to be able to keep up his run-scoring pace from last year (again, the Mets scored the fifth-fewest runs in the league in ’16). As a 3B/SS-eligible player being drafted in just 42 percent of Yahoo leagues, and going well outside the top 200 on average, Reyes could end up being one of the better deep sleepers in ’17 drafts. (Brandon Funston)

BEST FOLLOW
By the hammer of Thor, there is but one Mets player you should be following.

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There isn’t anyone in baseball who has more fun than Noah Syndergaard. He’s constantly dunking on Mr. Met, he makes great jokes about his hair and “Game of Thrones” (he’s a fan), and he’s even funny when he’s tweeting an advertisement. (Roscher)

BEST REASON TO ATTEND A GAME
It’s New York, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding more great things to do when you’re visiting Citi Field. That includes the standard sights we’ve all come to expect from the Big Apple. But if you target being closer to the ballpark, we’re here to help.

You can attempt to check out the USTA National Tennis Center or Arthur Ashe Stadium. Both are located within a mile from Citi Field. If tennis isn’t your thing, that’s fine. The New York Hall of Science, Louis Armstrong House Memorial, Queens Zoo and the Unisphere are all located less than a mile away from the park as well. Again, it’s New York … you’re going to have plenty of options. (Cwik)

ALSO IN THIS SERIES: San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!