2023 Opponent: Meet The Mets

2023 Opponent: Meet The Mets

The New York Mets wobble into Cincinnati this week with their $358 million payroll and a 17-18 record. Dig through that pile of money and you’ll find a team competing with the Phillies (16-19) and Marlins (17-18) for second place in the NL East division.

Struggling for the unobstructed view looking up at Atlanta isn’t what Mets owner Steve Cohen had in mind when he crashed the luxury tax gate by more than $100 million. But that’s where Cohen’s Mets are today, as they face the Reds for three games at Great American Ball Park.

  • Tuesday (6:40 pm)
  • Wednesday (6:40 pm)
  • Thursday (12:35 pm)

The Mets won five of the six games the two teams played in 2022.


As you might expect from a franchise with a payroll that lofty, the Mets had a busy offseason writing checks. They added or retained these players:

  • Justin Verlander (SP) 2 years, $86.7 million
  • Kodai Senga (SP) 5 years, $75 million
  • Brandon Nimmo (OF) 8 years, $162 million
  • Edwin Diaz (RP) 5 years, $102 million
  • Jeff McNeil (2B) 4 years, $50 million
  • Omar Narvaez (C) 2 years, $15 million
  • David Robertson (RP) 1 year, $10  million
  • Adam Ottavino (RP) 2 years, $14.5 million
  • Jose Quintana (SP) 2 years, $26 million

As if that’s not enough, Cohen offered a giant contract (12 years, $315 million) to SS Carlos Correa, but the deal fell through due to health concerns with Correa.

The Mets did lose a few important pieces from 2022, namely starting pitchers. Jacob deGrom signed with the Texas Rangers. Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker also walked away to free agency.

Position Players

Manager Buck Showalter’s lineup that ranked third-best in the majors returns largely intact from 2022.

First baseman Pete Alonso slugged 40 homers and has popped 11 already in 2023. 2B Jeff McNeil won the 2022 batting title, hitting .326 and leading the club with a .382 on-base percentage. SS Francisco Lindor belted 26 homers and swiped 16 bases. RF Starling Marte just missed the 20/20 club in 118 games. Leadoff hitter and centerfielder Brandon Nimmo scored 102 times, walked 10.5% of the time and hit 16 homers. Those guys, plus LF Mark Canha (128 wRC+) are all back.

The Mets signed veteran catcher Omar Narvaez to replace James McCann, but Narvaez is on the IL with a strained calf. Former Red Tommy Pham was brought in to be the Mets fourth outfielder. Super-prospect Brett Baty has won the third base job for now. DH Daniel Vogelbach is still with the Mets after the deadline trade with the Pirates last year. Vogelbach put up a 144 wRC+ for the Mets in the season’s final two months.

Here are the 13 Mets position players with their 2023 stats through Saturday.

Catcher Omar Narvaez (calf) and OF Tim Locastro (back) are on the IL.

Heading into this series, the Mets offense ranks 16th (Reds 27th) overall. They rank 21st in power (Reds 28th). They have the fifth lowest strikeout rate (Reds 23rd) and fifth best walk rate (Reds 13th).

Here is the Mets probable batting order against a RH starter:

  1. Brandon Nimmo (L)
  2. Starling Marte (R)
  3. Francisco Lindor (S)
  4. Pete Alonso (R)
  5. Jeff McNeil (L)
  6. Daniel Vogelbach (L)
  7. Mark Canha (R)
  8. Brett Baty (L)
  9. Francisco Alvarez (R)

Tommy Pham starts against LHP.


Here is our chart for Mets pitchers through Saturday.

As a staff, the Mets pitchers rank 25th in xERA (Reds 18th). They’ve recorded the 19th most strikeouts (Reds 10th) and given up the 28th most walks (Reds 23rd). If you’re wondering why the Mets have the mediocre record they do, just check out that xERA column for the starting rotation. The Oakland A’s are the only team worse.

Starting Rotation

Here are the probable starters:

  • Monday Luke Weaver vs. Max Scherzer
  • Tuesday Hunter Greene vs. Justin Verlander
  • Wednesday Nick Lodolo vs. Kodai Senga

The Reds face future Hall of Famers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander the first two games.

Scherzer has won three Cy Young awards (2013, 2016, 2017) and finished 2nd or 3rd in the voting three other times. Verlander has won three Cy Young trophies of his own (2011, 2019, 2022), plus four 2nd or 3rd place finishes. He was also the American League MVP in 2011. The former Detroit Tigers teammates have combined for 447 major league wins and 6416 strikeouts.

They also add up to 78 years old.

Tomorrow, Scherzer (38) will make his sixth start of the season. His ERA is 5.56 and xERA barely better at 5.28. His strikeout rate (21%) and walk rate (10%) are significantly worse than last year. Scherzer missed two starts serving a league suspension for violating the MLB grip-enhancing substances rule. Since then, he gave up six earned runs in 3.1 innings in a homecoming start in Motown.

Verlander (40) began the 2023 season on the IL with a teres major (muscle that helps rotate the arm in the shoulder) strain. Tomorrow’s start will be his second of the season. His best pitch remains a 95-mph fastball that he throws about half the time. A slider comprises 40% of his portfolio with a curve filling in the rest.

The Mets signed starter Kodai Senga who throws a 100-mph fastball and is famous for a forkball with the nickname “ghost fork.” Senga pitched more than a decade in Japan where he won five Japan Series titles over more than 1000 innings pitched.

Joey Lucchesi pitched yesterday. Tylor Megill started Saturday.


Edwin Diaz was the best reliever in baseball last year. That’s why the Mets re-signed him to the largest contract ever given a relief pitcher just a couple days after the season ended. But the 29-year-old reliever is out after season-ending knee surgery. Brooks Raley, who the Mets received via a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, is sidelined with elbow inflammation.

To replace Diaz at the back end of the bullpen, the Mets have turned to veterans David Robertson and Adam Ottavino as co-closers. The Mets don’t have any left-handed relievers on their active roster.


The Mets face enormous pressure. Not only do they play in New York, but their owner conspicuously spent on payroll. So far, the Mets’ bats have fallen short but are still right around average. The biggest issue for manager Buck Showalter has been starting pitching. The series with the Reds will give us a glimpse of how that’s going.

Image: Mets Twitter

Steve Mancuso

Steve Mancuso is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up during the Big Red Machine era. He’s been writing about the Reds for more than ten years. Steve’s fondest memories about the Reds include attending a couple 1975 World Series games, being at Homer Bailey’s second no-hitter and going nuts for Jay Bruce at Clinchmas. Steve was also at all three games of the 2012 NLDS, but it’s too soon to talk about that.