2021 New York Mets
The Mets missed the postseason in each of their last four years. Their offense scored fewer runs than New York allowed in three of these seasons. The Mets ranked 2nd in ERA (4.98) despite having one of the game's best starters. New York finished 14th in runs (286) and ninth in home runs (86).
They made a blockbuster deal with the Indians to acquire SS Francisco Lindor and SP Carlos Carrasco for SS Amed Rosario, 2B Andres Gimenez, SP Josh Wolf, and OF Isaiah Greene. The Mets picked up SP Joey Lucchesi from the Padres in a three-way deal with Pittsburgh. New York shipped SP Steven Matz to the Blue Jays for SP Sean Reid-Foley, P Yennsy Diaz, and P Josh Winckowski.
The roster house cleaning started with the backend of the starting rotation. The Mets didn’t re-sign SP Rick Porcello and SP Michael Wacha. They also dumped RP Justin Wilson, C Wilson Ramos, OF Juan Lagares, 3B Todd Frazier, and OF Yoenis Cespedes into the free-agent market.
New York signed C James McCann, IF Jose Peraza, SS Jonathan Villar, OF Jose Martinez, OF Kevin Pillar, SP Taijuan Walker, RP Trevor May, and RP Aaron Loup.
The bullpen has a top closer if RP Edwin Diaz regains his previous form. The bullpen's backend has closing experience, but the Mets need RP Trevor May, RP Seth Lugo, and RP Dellin Betances to pitch at a high level in the seventh and eighth innings.
New York would be helped offensively if the National League used a designated hitter. OF Dominic Smith would be a much better fit instead of competing for at-bats in the outfield. I expect plenty of home runs.
The starting rotation behind SP Jacob deGrom has intrigue while still having multiple question marks. New York hopes SP Carlos Carrasco can pitch like a second ace.
The Mets have enough firepower offensively to win many games when adding in their pitching staff's expected success. New York should make the postseason in 2021.
MORE FROM SI: Ranking MLB's Top 50 Free Agents
1. SS Francisco Lindor
The Mets solidified the top of the lineup by adding Lindor over the winter. He led the American League in plate appearances in three of the last four seasons.
From 2017 to 2019, Lindor hit .278 with 329 runs, 103 home runs, 255 RBI, and 62 steals over 1,910 at-bats.
Last year the Indians’ offense fell back in the standings, leading to him seeing a fade in his average hit rate (1.607) and contact batting average (.313). His 2020 stats projected over 600 at-bats (averaged 629 at-bats from 2016 to 2019) came to 76 runs, 20 home runs, 69 RBI, and 15 stolen bases.
His strikeout rate (15.4) is drifting higher while remaining in a favorable area. Lindor did finish with his second-highest walk rate (9.0).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Fantasy owners can pick up Lindor in the second round (ADP – 17) in most formats in 2021 as the fourth shortstop drafted. He is just reaching the prime of his career while playing in front of plenty of power in the Mets’ starting lineup. New York only attempted 30 steals in 2020 (20 stolen bases), which does lower expectations in this area. Look for a .280 batting average with 100+ runs, 25+ home runs, 75+ RBI, and 15+ steals. His SIscore over the past four seasons ranked 22nd, 5th, 18th, and 54th in hitting, which means he may be overpriced even with a great season expected.
2. 2B Jeff McNeil
After a breakthrough season in 2019 (.318 with 23 home runs and 75 RBI), McNeil lost his power stroke last year, highlighted by his weaker average hit rate (1.456). His stats projected over his 2019 at-bats (510) came to 53 runs, 11 home runs, and 64 RBI.
He has an improving approach (walk rate – 9.6 and strikeout rate – 11.5). McNeil finished with a high batting average, but his hard-hit rate (26.5) was one of the lowest in baseball. He has a low-fly ball (32.1 percent) swing path while seeing his HR/FB rate (7.7) coming in 50 percent lower than 2019 (15.4).
Over three years in New York, McNeil hit .319 with 137 runs, 30 home runs, 117 RBI, and 12 steals over 918 at-bats.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: There is no doubt that McNeil is going to help in batting average. His power in 2018 in the minors (19 home runs) and in 2019 with the Mets (23 home runs) does suggest last year's downtick with an outlier. Even with a dull season in 2020, he does have a highly respected ADP (85) in the 12-team high-stakes market. With New York expected to be better offensively, I’ll set his bar at .315 with 90 runs, 15 home runs, 70 RBI, and five steals. Think steady rather than impactful.
3. 1B Peter Alonso
In one easy season, Alonso went from an astounding power-hitting stud to a dud. His biggest failure came in his lower RBI (10 – 17 in 2019), which ranks below the game's lightest hitters.
He finished with repeated success in his average hit rate (2.125) with a fly-ball swing (43.9 percent) and an elite HR/FB rate (24.6 – 29.0 in his career). Alonso only had a slight drop in his hard-hit rate (41.2 – 42.2), but his barrels per plate appearance fell in a much weaker area (7.9 – 9.5 in 2019).
Alonso had almost the same approach (strikeout rate – 25.5 and walk rate – 10.0). His bat lost value against lefties (.194 with five home runs and eight RBI over 67 at-bats) compared to his rookie season (.240 with 14 home runs and 35 RBI over 150 at-bats).
In 2018, Alonso hit .260 over 258 at-bats at AAA with 21 home runs, translating to 49 home runs and 155 RBI if he matched his 2019 playing time (597 at-bats) with the Mets. In essence, his bat had almost the same value over these two seasons except for fewer RBI chances and a step back in approach.
Over three seasons in the minors, he hit .290 with 59 home runs and 203 RBI over 940 at-bats. Alonso also beat the league average with his strikeout rate (20.3).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: The new questions with his batting average risk led to Alonso’s ADP falling to 57 in 2021. His swing path set a high floor in home runs, and I expect him to be much better with a winter to clean up his thought process and swing. I see more batting average than most, and I’m buying at his early price point; while expecting him to hit over .280 with 100+ runs, 45+ home runs, and 110+ RBI.
4. OF Michael Conforto
The trigger for a player to move up the draft board after a good season is batting average. The short season led to Conforto seeing a massive jump in his contact batting average (.448 – .353 in 2019). Before last season, his batting average never broke the .280 mark while averaging .253 over his first 1,943 at-bats with the Mets.
His strikeout rate (24.5) was almost the same as his career average (24.2). Conforto has had a walk rate over 10% in each of his last five seasons. In a way, he has almost the identical approach as Peter Alonso.
Conforto saw his average hit rate fall to 1.600 (1.922 in 2019). The decline in his fly-ball rate (28.3 – 38.3 in his career) was critical in his fade in power. At the same time, he had a significant jump in his line drive rate (30.3 – 22.7 in his career), which was tied to the rise in his batting average. Conforto saw his HR/FB rate (22.0) improve for the second straight season.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: This draft season, Conforto can be had with the 73rd ADP in 12-team drafts in early February. His bat is still pointing up in runs, home runs, and RBI, while his batting average should fall back to the league average. Just for reference, Conforto finished 58th in SIscore for hitters in 2019. He is the 45th batter selected in 2021—a possible chance at 90+ runs, 35+ home runs, and over 100 RBI.
5. 3B J.D. Davis
In his second season with a chance at starting at-bats for the Mets, Davis failed to make the expected impact. He continues to struggle with runners on base (RBI rate – 10) while seeing a decline in his contact batting average (.326 – .403 in 2019) and average hit rate (1.574).
Davis finished with a big step forward in his walk rate (13.5) while still having some risk in his strikeout rate (24.5).
His stats projected over 550 at-bats came to 75 runs, 17 home runs, and 55 RBI. Davis had the most struggles against left-handed pitching (.235 with two home runs and four RBI over 68 at-bats).
His HR/FB rate (18.8) continues to be healthy, but Davis posted a tremendous ground ball rate (56.3) in 2020 while having a low fly-ball rate (23.7 – 27.9 in his career) in the majors.
Over five seasons in the minors, Davis hit .292 with 105 home runs, 393 RBI, and 19 steals over 1,981 at-bats.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: The Mets had Davis on the field for 56 of their 60 games last year, putting him on a path to see the most playing time of his career. His ADP (219) is higher than final stats in 2020, but fantasy owners are willing to overlook his struggles while gravitating toward his 2019 season with the Mets and his minor league resume. Davis should hit over .280 with a run at an 80/25/80/5 season.
6. 1B Dominic Smith
The Mets gave Smith the same number of at-bats (177) over the last two seasons. Last year he pushed his average hit rate (1.946) and average hit rate (.424) to elite levels while developing a middle of the other RBI rate (20).
After only seeing three games of action over the first eight games in 2020, Smith pounced on his new opportunity after Yoenis Cespedes went down with an injury.
New York split his playing time between first base (25), outfield (23), and DH (5). Smith has his best path for at-bats in left field with no designated hitter expected this year unless he steals playing time from Peter Alonso.
He has strength in his HR/FB rate (22.2), but his fly-ball rate (33.3) is trending downward. His hard-hit rate improved from 34.6 in 2019 to 46.7 last year.
Over seven seasons in the minors, he hit .295 with 46 home runs, 358 RBI, and 15 stolen bases over 2,377 at-bats. After hitting over .300 at High A (.305), AA (.302), and AAA (.330) from 2015 to 2017, Smith struggled to find his rhythm and role at AAA in 2018 (.258 with six home runs and 41 RBI over 337 at-bats) and the majors (.210 with 14 home runs and 37 RBI over 310 at-bats) in 2017 and 2018.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Smith is ready to be an impact bat in the majors. I expect him to hit over .300, and his swing looks ready to deliver over 30 home runs. In the early draft season, he has an ADP of 99. His only question could be runs if he hits lower in the Mets' batting order—the right kind of bet.
7. C James McCann
After making $8.5 million over his first eight years in the majors while working in a split role, McCann signed a four-year $40 million deal in mid-December to start behind the plate for the Mets.
Over seven years with the Tigers and White Sox, he hit .249 with 65 home runs, 252 RBI, and seven steals over 2,072 at-bats. McCann had his best opportunity (476 at-bats) and success in 2019 (.273 with 62 runs, 18 home runs, 60 RBI, and four steals). His play drove his payday over the past two years (.276/82/25/75 over 536 at-bats).
McCann had a spike in his contact batting average (.418) and average hit rate (1.857) in 2020. His approach (strikeout rate – 27.0 and walk rate – 7.2) remain below the league average. He had a sharp rise in his HR/FB rate in 2019 (18.6) and 2020 (26.9).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Fantasy owners have been working hard in the offseason to justify McCann’s value in New York. The math of 2019 plus 2020 stats doesn’t always translate as one would hope. There is no doubt his bat is improving, and McCann should see the most playing time of his career. His ADP (183) paints him as the 12th catcher off the boards while also being the drop-off to the next option (Mitch Garver – 197). The change in ballparks and the upgraded pitching he’ll face in the NL East has to be a consideration would deciding on his draft value this season. I only see a .250 hitter with a 50/15/50 skill set.
8. OF Brandon Nimmo
If Nimmo could deliver a full season of his stats from 2020, he would have arrived in the majors and fulfilled expectations, at least in the fantasy market. With 550 at-bats last year, his path would have translated to 98 runs, 24 home runs, and 53 RBI.
His most significant question mark to his upside with the Mets over his first four seasons with his high strikeout rate (26.9) while always having a leadoff type walk rate (15.1). In 2020, Nimmo lowered his strikeout rate to 19.1 percent.
He tends to have a high average hit rate (1.731), supporting a minimum of 25 home runs with 550 at-bats. His contact batting average (.364) came in below his previous highs with New York (2017 – .393 and 2018 – .389). Nimmo has strength in his HR/FB rate (17.4), which has been in a tight range over the last three seasons. He does hit a low number of fly-balls (32.4 percent – 33.5 in his career).
Over five seasons in New York, Nimmo hit .258 with 39 home runs, 121 RBI, and 15 stolen bases over 1,068 at-bats.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: In the early team outlook review, I have Nimmo batting lower in the batting order. His walk rate and improvement in 2020 paint a top of the order bat with plenty of help in runs. He’s never been great with runners on base, and his value steals won’t be impactful. In the end, Nimmo’s opportunity this year will hinge on his ability to make contact. His minor league resume in this area (21 percent strikeout rate) suggests his growth in 2020 was expected. With an ADP of 254 in early February, Nimmo needs to bat leadoff. I'm torn as I see the light for the first time in his player profile. I’ll low-ball him with 70 runs, 20 home runs, and 50 RBI with 500 at-bats while also understanding his potential upside.
2B Jose Peraza
Peraza never showed a pulse in 2020 with Boston (.225 with one home run, eight RBI, and one steal over 111 at-bats).
His contact batting average was a disaster in 2019 (.283) and 2020 (.269), along with his hard-hit rate (25.7 and 27.7).
Even with a big year in 2019 (.288 with 85/14/58/23), Peraza didn’t have the average hit rate (1.444) to support growth or even repeat his value in power.
He is tough to strike out (12.8 in his career) while barely taking any walks (4.0 percent). Peraza did try to change his swing path (44.7 percent fly-ball rate – 36.4 in his career) in 2019 and 2020 while offering a lady-like HR/FB rate (5.0 in his career).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: In his six seasons in the majors, Peraza only played well in 2019. He’ll start the year at age 26, so his bat is still just reaching the peak of his career. Peraza projects as a utility player, but he could slide into a starting role if the NL added the DH (Dominic Smith to DH, Jeff McNeil to LF, and Peraza to 2B). A possible sneaky speed option with a lot of work to do to add more power.
SS Jonathan Villar
Over the last five seasons, Villar delivered two top-tier campaigns (2016 and 2019) thanks to his ability to steal plus bases and hit home runs. He finished as a bust last season (.232 with two home runs, 15 RBI, and 16 stolen bases over 185 at-bats) while underperforming in 2017 and 2018.
In 2020, he had a severe drop in his contact batting average (.328), average hit rate (1.256), and run rate (21) compared to the previous year (.376, 1.653, and .47). Villar continues to hit a ton of ground balls (59.8 percent – 55.0 in his career), leading to a pint-size fly-ball rate (21.2 – 25.1 in his career) and a much lower HR/FB rate (7.1 – 16.7 in 2019 and 16.2 in his career).
Based on his previous listed weight, Villar looked to have added 20 lbs. from 2019, meaning he came into camp last year out of shape. Without a trimmer body frame, steals could be a problem, plus his batting average on ground balls hit would be lower.
Villar has a high strikeout rate (27.9 – 26.6 in his career) with a walk rate (8.8) above the league average.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: When at his best, Villar ranked fourth in SIscore (8.38) in 2019 with a top 10 finish as well in 2016. Despite signing late, his ADP (141) came in higher than expected, considering his struggles last year. There is plenty of batting average risk here, and impactful steals hinge on him losing a few pounds over the winter. Villar can drive the ball when hitting the ball in the air, but that probably only happens 15 percent of the time when adding in his strikeouts. At best, .250 with 15 home runs and 30 steals, but he needs the DH in the NL to help his opportunity.
OF Kevin Pillar
Between Boston and Colorado in 2020, Pillar had a full-time starting job. He finished with only six home runs (on pace for 16 home runs over 567 at-bats), despite setting a career-high in his average hit rate (1.750).
His strikeout rate (18.4) is favorable while trending upwards slightly. Pillar ranks poorly in his walk rate in his career (4.1).
Over the last two seasons, he hit .266 with 117 runs, 27 home runs, 114 RBI, and 19 stolen bases over 819 at-bats.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Pillar is a veteran bat with a good glove, which will be a problem for Brandon Nimmo receiving starting at-bats over the long haul. Sneaky balanced bat with some batting average risk.
OF Jose Martinez
Martinez never found his rhythm or a starting job in 2020 with Tampa. After a dull 67 at-bats (.239 with two home runs and 10 RBI), the Rays shipped him to the Cardinals. He didn’t have a hit in 21 at-bats in the NL. Martinez did miss time in July before the season with Covid.
From 2017 to 2019, he hit .296 with 156 runs, 41 home runs, 171 RBI, and seven stolen bases over 1,140 at-bats for St. Louis. His only season with a starting opportunity came in 2018 (.305/64/17/83 over 534 at-bats).
Martinez struggled to make contact last year (strikeout rate – 27.6), leading to a sharp decline in his contact batting average (.262). His approach was much better with St. Louis (walk rate – 9.2 and strikeout rate – 19.2).
He hit .294 with 62 home runs, 400 RBI, and 73 stolen bases over 3,254 at-bats over 11 seasons.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Martinez can hit for average with mid-teen power. He has experience at 1B and OF, but his defense, at least in the outfield, makes him a better option at DH if the National League decides to go that route in 2021. Martinez should work as a utility player this season with possible injury cover value in deep leagues if given starting at-bats.
Ali Sanchez (C): Sanchez will compete for the backup catching job for the Mets. Over six seasons in the minors, he hit .259 with 11 home runs, 141 RBI, and 15 steals over 1,355 at-bats. He only has 56 at-bats of experience at AAA (.278 with one home run and 30 RBI), but New York gave him five games in 2020 (1-for-9).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Sanchez brings a top defensive skill set to the majors, which may be enough to win a bench role in 2021. He will make contact with a low strikeout rate (14.3). I don’t expect much out of his bat early in his career.
Luis Guillorme (IF): Guillorme has three stints in the majors over the last three seasons, which led to a .259 batting average with one home run, 17 RBI, and three stolen bases over 185 at-bats.
Over seven seasons in the minors, he hit .289 with 12 home runs, 237 RBI, and 44 steals over 2,249 at-bats. His walk rate (10.5) grades well with a low strikeout rate (12.1).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Guillorme will try to beat Jose Peraza for the utility infield role in 2021.
Guillermo Heredia (OF): Heredia never worked his way into starting at-bats over the past three seasons with Seattle, Tampa, New York, or Pittsburgh.
Over five years in the majors, he hit .239 with 121 runs, 19 home runs, 80 RBI, and seven stolen bases over 1,007 at-bats. His strikeout rate (25.0) remained above his career average (17.6) in 2020, with about a league average walk rate (8.1) in his career.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Heredia has no upside in any area while only being a fifth outfield option for a major league team.
1. SP Jacob deGrom
Over the last three seasons, deGrom has been one of the best pitchers in the game (2.10 ERA and 628 strikeouts over 489 innings), but he only has 25 wins in 76 starts.
His walk rate (2.4) slid back from his elite success over the past two years (1.9), but deGrom did improve his strikeout rate (13.8) to a career-high level.
He pitched over 200 innings from 2017 to 2019, and deGrom was on pace to reach that mark again last season if baseball played 162 games.
DeGrom dominated both right-handed (.195 BAA) and left-handed (.184 BAA) batters. He allowed three runs or fewer in all 12 of his starts while delivering five games with double-digit strikeouts.
His AFB (99.0) was off the chart great with improvement in each of the previous four years. He has three elite pitches (four-seam fastball – .186 BAA, slider – .207 BAA, and changeup – .163 BAA.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: His ADP (7) puts him in the first round in every draft this season. A fantasy owner can't be wrong by starting their team with an electric ace. New York should be better offensively, and hopefully, Edwin Diaz can secure his wins. On the verge of 20 wins with a sub 2.25 ERA and 300 strikeouts while offering a significant edge in WHIP. DeGrom looks poised to be the best arm in New York in 2021.
2. SP Carlos Carrasco
Carrasco ended up being a bust in 2019. His season started with half of his first 12 starts resulting in disaster. Despite allowing no runs over 23 innings with 28 strikeouts in four of those games, he had an ERA of 4.98 at the end of May with 14 home runs allowed over 65 innings.
The Indians placed him on the injured list for three months with a battle with a form of leukemia. Carrasco returned to the mound in September as a reliever, but he struggled in many games (6.60 ERA).
In 2020, Carrasco regained his form, leading to 11 starts with three runs or fewer allowed. After his first six starts, he still has a 4.50 ERA. Over his final six games, he posted a 1.66 ERA and 43 strikeouts over 38 innings. His walk rate (3.6 – 2.3 in his career) did come at his highest level since his rookie season in 2009 (4.4)
His AFB (94.1) regressed slightly for the sixth straight season. Carrasco dominated with his slider (.149 BAA) and curveball (.175 BAA) while also offering strength in his changeup (.244 BAA).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Over the seven seasons, he went 77-54 with a 3.41 ERA and 1,141 strikeouts over 1,004 innings. Carrasco has never pitched over 200 innings in his career. With 32 starts, a fantasy owner can expect double-digit with a 3.25 ERA and 200+ strikeouts. His early ADP is 68.
3. SP Marcus Stroman
After suffering a calf injury in July and landing on the injured list to start the year, Stroman elected to opt-out of the season with no pitches thrown. The Mets signed him to an $18.9 million deal in early November.
Stroman finished with help in ERA (3.22), but his ride in 2019 wasn’t that easy. After success in April (1.43 ERA, .197 BAA, and 36 strikeouts over 37.2 innings). He looked on the verge of disaster over his next eight starts (4.91 ERA, 1.523 WHIP, .299 BAA, and seven home runs over 44 innings).
Stroman posted a 3.16 ERA over his final 18 starts covering 102.2 innings with 96 strikeouts. His risk came against left-handed batters (.291 BAA). He had a spike in his strikeout rate (9.1) with the Mets, which was well above his previous career-high (7.6).
His AFB (93.4) is about league average, but batters hit .315 against his sinker. He also struggled with his cutter (.295 BAA), while his slider (.168 BAA) and low-volume changeup (.167 BAA) kept him in the game.
Stroman came into 2019 with one of the highest ground ball rates (over 60 percent)in baseball, but that number slid to 53.7 percent.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: He has a tweener arm with an ADP of 205. With a 3.76 ERA in his career, Stroman should have that as his floor, and pitching in the National League should be better than his time in the AL East. In three of his previous four seasons, he did make at least 32 starts. More steady than explosive with WHIP and strikeouts expected to be his weakest categories.
4. SP Taijuan Walker
Walker only pitched only four games in 2018 and 2019 (3.21 ERA and 10 strikeouts over 14 innings) due to TJ surgery in April of 2018. His progress was slowed by a right shoulder strain in 2019, leading to Walker tossing one shutout inning with one strikeout.
Last year, Walker struggled in two of his first three starts (nine runs, 16 baserunners, and two home runs over seven innings). His arm was impressive over his other nine starts (1.36 ERA, 0.9928 WHIP, and 46 strikeouts over 46.1 innings).
His AFB (93.5) was a career-low. Batters struggled to hit his four-seam fastball (.154 BAA) and slider (.151 BAA). curveball (.194 BAA). Walker still needs to find his rhythm with his split-finger fastball (.265 BAA) and his show-me curveball (.273 BAA).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: The Mets saw enough in him to sign him to a two-year $20 million contract in a challenging market. His ADP (303) looks attractive, despite underachieving his expected pedigree. His next stop is a sub 3.50 ERA and a chance at a career-high in strikeouts.
5. SP Joey Lucchesi
Last year Lucchesi was drafted as a mid-level arm while expecting him to build off his first two years with the Padres (18-19 with a 4.14 ERA and 303 strikeouts over 293.2 innings). San Diego gave him two starts (five runs, 13 base runners, and five strikeouts) in 2020 to prove his worth. His only other appearance came in relief on September 16th.
In 2019, Lucchesi didn’t take a further step forward. His walk rate (3.1) remained a slight negative with a pullback in his strikeout rate (8.7). He did lower his WHIP (1.222) while being tougher to hit (.233 BAA).
Lucchesi still gives up too many home runs (1.34 per nine).
After struggling in three of his last four starts in April (17 runs, 35 baserunners, and four home runs over 20.2 innings), he posted a 3.55 ERA and 109 strikeouts over his next 119 innings despite walking 42 batters. Lucchesi struggled over his next two starts (11 runs and 17 baserunners over 7.2 innings), pushing his ERA over 4.00.
His issue with home runs came against right-handed batters (.236 with 19 home runs over 479 at-bats).
He has a short fastball (90.8 MPH) while gaining his edge with a plus changeup (.178 BAA). Lucchesi pounds a decent sinker (.253 BAA), but he struggles with his four-seamer (.292 BAA).
Over 41 games in the minors over three seasons, he went 11-10 with a 2.25 ERA and 212 strikeouts over 187.2 innings with excellent command (strikeout rate – 10.2 and walk rate – 1.9).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Lucchesi should be a nice find for the Mets. He needs to throw more strikes in the majors, but his overall skill set and resume point to a future ERA of 3.50 with a chance at over 200 strikeouts. His cloudy stats with San Diego gives him a free ADP (562). I view him as a bench stash with serviceable value in 2021. I expect him to be in New York’s starting rotation in April.
SP David Peterson
After a breakthrough season in 2017 in college (11-4 with a 2.51 ERA and 140 strikeouts over 100.1 innings), the Mets drafted Peterson with the 20th overall pick in 2017.
His arm had no problem with A Ball in 2018 (1.82 ERA and 57 strikeouts over 59.1 innings), but he did look overmatched at High A in 2018 (4.33 ERA and 1.354 WHIP) and AA in 2019 (4.19 ERA and 1.345 WHIP).
Overall, Peterson maintained value in both his walk rate (2.5) and strikeout rate (8.8) in the minors while showing more strikeout ability in 2019 (9.5).
With Marcus Stroman missing 2020, Peterson made the jump from AA to the majors. He allowed three runs or fewer in eight of his nine starts while struggling in one game (five runs and eight base runners over two innings). Despite his success, Peterson struggled with his command (4.3 walks per nine) while also grading low with his first-pitch strike rate (55).
His AFB (92.7) came below the league average. Peterson threw a plus slider (.121 BAA), and his four-seam fastball (.170 BAA) graded well.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: With an ADP of 409, fantasy owners will have some wiggle room with Peterson's value. His arm could quickly regress to his 2019 season in the minors if he doesn’t throw more strikes. Major league batters struggled to hit him (.202 BAA), which has to rate well in his evaluation. Only a coin flip, but his strikeout to walk ratio reminds me of Jon Lester in 2007, and he broke through the next season. Throw the dart while having a short memory if he struggles to throw strikes.
SP Sean Reid-Foley
Reid-Foley failed to develop into a major league arm after flashing his potential in 2016 between A and High A (10-5 with 130 strikeouts over 115.1 innings) and AA and AAA in 2018 (12-5 with 3.26 ERA and 150 strikeouts over 129.2 innings).
2019 ended up being a lost season at AAA (6.47 ERA and 105 strikeouts over 89 innings).
Over three years with the Blue Jays, Reid-Foley went 5-8 with a 4.40 ERA and 76 strikeouts over 71.2 innings.
His AFB (94.9) was a career-high out of the bullpen in 2020. He throws a slider as his best pitch, followed by a show-me changeup.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: At age 25, Reid-Foley is well past the top prospect era of his career. He’s hanging by a thread for any kind of a major league opportunity. It all starts with throwing more strikes, which has been a problem in his whole professional career.
SP Thomas Szapucki
Injuries have been a problem for Szapucki over his four years in the minors. He missed all of 2018 with TJ surgery.
Over four seasons in the minors, Szapucki went 6-8 with a 2.42 ERA and 188 strikeouts over 145 innings. In 2019, he made 18 starts between A, High A, and AA, leading to a 3.25 ERA and 72 strikeouts over 61.2 innings. Unfortunately, Szapucki averaged 2.9 innings per appearance.
His fastball expected to be in the low-90s with enough upside to him 95 MPH. Szapucki has an electric curveball with a high spin rate while still looking to find a difference-maker changeup.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: This season, Szapucki should start the year at AAA. He needs to throw strikes and prove that he can handle more innings. There is sneaky upside here, but his path to the majors may start in the bullpen. In 2019, Szapucki battled an arm injury that appeared to be minor.
CL Edwin Diaz
Even with a 1.75 ERA and a career-high strikeout rate (17.5), Diaz goes down a bust for me. He finished with only saves, which was the critical factor when selecting him early in drafts.
After picking a save opening day, Diaz blew four of his next five saves. His third save didn’t come until September 9th. Over his first 14 games, he had 2.77 ERA and 28 strikeouts over 13 innings. Diaz drove the bus home with one run allowed over his final 12.2 innings with 22 strikeouts and four saves.
His walk rate (4.9) was a career-high and well above his outstanding season in 2018 (2.1 walks per nine).
In 2019, Diaz's failure came from 15 home runs allowed over 58 innings with weakness in his walk rate (3.4).
His AFB (98.2) was electric while having the most velocity of his career. Diaz has an elite slider (.143 BAA), which was well above his value in 2018 (.297 BAA). His four-seam fastball (.237 BAA) had more life in 2017 (.188 BAA) when he posted a 1.96 ERA with 124 strikeouts over 73.1 innings.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Diaz has one of the best closing arms in the game while just reaching the prime of his career. He needs to clean up his command if his WHIP is going to be an asset. Diaz has an ADP of 87 in early February in the 12-team high-stakes market. I’m banking on an impactful ERA with 100+ strikeouts and 40+ saves. Don’t be shy with his price point, as the wise guys will have him highlighted on their draft sheet. I view him as a must-own in 2021.
RP Seth Lugo
I’m going to give Lugo a pass for last year. The Mets used him as a thorn in Diaz’s side over his first nine games (2.61 ERA, .211 BAA, 11 strikeouts, and three saves over 10.1 innings) before he jumped to the starting rotation.
Lugo looked great over his first three starts (two runs over 11.2 innings with 20 strikeouts). His arm crushed fantasy owners over his final four games (16 runs, 28 baserunners, and five home runs over 14.2 innings with 16 strikeouts).
He continued to have a high strikeout rate (11.5) with a low walk rate (2.5). His AFB (93.9) lost about one MPH, with most of the damage coming as a starter. Lugo has a plus curveball (.226 BAA) while offering a winning low-volume changeup (.143 BAA).
As a reliever in his career, Lugo has a 2.53 ERA and 210 strikeouts over 188.2 innings compared to a 4.35 ERA as a starter.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: This season, the Mets want to shorten games with a top bullpen. Lugo has the command and strikeout ability to pitch in the ninth when he throws the ball well. New York will use him for multiple innings at times, which points to him seeing more opportunities in the seventh inning. Lugo has 100-strikeout upside with a workhorse number of innings with a sub 3.00 ERA expected.
Update: In mid-February, Lugo had right elbow surgery to remove bone chips. The Mets hope to have him back on the mound in early April.
RP Trevor May
In 2019, May had an outside chance to seize the closing job out of spring training for the Twins.
After starting the year with six shutout innings with three strikeouts, he struggled in back-to-back games (four runs and six baserunners over one inning with two strikeouts).
From May 15th to July 21st, he had just enough bad outings (5.32 ERA and 1.590 WHIP) to keep him from the ninth inning. He finished the year on the uptick (1.33 ERA and 35 strikeouts over 27 innings).
Last year May pushed his strikeout rate (14.7) to a career-high area while improving his walk rate (2.7). His struggles came from five home runs allowed over 23.1 innings.
AFB (96.7) was a career-best while being tough to hit (four-seam – .1239 BAA). His changeup (.250 BAA) faded, but May found his slider (.167 BAA).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Over the last three seasons in the Twins’ bullpen, May went 10-4 with a 3.19 ERA, 153 strikeouts, and seven saves over 113 innings. The Mets will use him as a top setup man, but he needs to clean up the damage with home runs allowed. May did throw an elite number of first-pitch strikes 68 percent), pointing to further growth.
2021 Fantasy Baseball Team Outlooks