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After a string of disappointing campaigns, the New York Mets have emerged as the team to beat in the National League following a busy offseason.
However, there are still a handful of individual players with something to prove between now and the end of the season.
Whether it’s an underperforming or injured star, an upcoming free agent, or a breakout performer at a key position who needs to maintain his level of production, there are many reasons why a player might want to make a point.
Ahead, we’ve highlighted three such players on the Mets roster.
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With Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer both sidelined, Chris Bassitt has emerged as the workhorse of the Mets staff.
The 33-year-old ranks 11th in the majors with 82.2 innings pitched, and he has a 4.03 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and a .228 opponents’ batting average over his first 14 starts in a Mets uniform following an offseason trade with the Oakland Athletics.
A late-bloomer, Bassitt quietly posted consecutive top-10 finishes in AL Cy Young voting in 2020 and 2021, and he’s set to reach free agency for the first time this coming offseason.
Not only has he become a tremendously important presence in the Mets rotation as they try to chase down the NL pennant, but he’s also pitching for perhaps his best opportunity at a multiyear payday in free agency this winter.
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What can the Mets reasonably expect out of Jacob deGrom this season?
The two-time Cy Young winner has not thrown a pitch in an MLB game since July 7, 2021, at which point he had a 1.08 ERA, 0.55 WHIP and 146 strikeouts in 92 innings through his first 15 starts of the season.
The 34-year-old has been sidelined since spring training with a stress reaction in his right scapula, and he has been throwing bullpen sessions since earlier this month. The next step is a rehab assignment, and a July return is not out of the question barring any setbacks.
If he comes back as his dominant pre-injury self, it becomes more likely he’ll opt out of the final season of his contract and hit the open market this offseason, which adds another layer of intrigue to his eventual return.
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Brandon Nimmo checked in at No. 8 on Bleacher Report’s most recent free agency big board looking ahead to the 2022-23 offseason, and he could play his way into the top five with a strong second half.
An on-base machine throughout his career with a .388 on-base percentage over seven MLB seasons, Nimmo also has the added value of being able to handle all three outfield spots defensively.
However, he has played more than 100 games just once in his career, and proving he can stay healthy for a full season might be the single best thing he can do in terms of bolstering his market value.
As the team’s leadoff hitter and everyday center fielder, he is also as indispensable as anyone on the Mets roster in their pursuit of a title.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and accurate through Tuesday’s games.