The Mets are back!
What’s better than Opening Day?! I remember when I was 9 years old and my parents were recently divorced so I was splitting time between each of their places. My dad wanted to take me to see the Mets’ opener which also happened to be the Rockies’ inaugural game.
Of course, it was on a school day, so my mom wasn’t about to let that happen, even though Monday was technically his day with me. Undeterred, we devised a plan for me to take my usual walk to school that morning, and just as I turned the corner and out of view of my mom’s house, my dad was waiting for me in his green Honda accord. I hopped in and off we went to see Doc Gooden pitch a complete game shutout in a crisp two hours and 40 minutes.
Wherever you are reading this, whether locally, from another timezone or lucky enough to be in Miami, I’m sure you will make your own story in finding a way to see the Mets at 4:10 pm ET.
And that is what today is all about. It’s baseball fans coming together to celebrate this special hobby that we share.
🗣️ JOIN OUR CHAT: When Brandon Nimmo steps into the batter’s box at 4:10 pm, we will be live with our first game chat of the season. If you haven’t already downloaded the Substack app, we highly recommend that you do. If you prefer using your laptop or ol’ fashioned PC, you can also access the chat here.
😎 OPENING DAY: For the first time since 1968, every team is scheduled to start the season on the same day. The Amazins will look to carry on their wonderful tradition of winning the opener; they have won 40 of their last 53 Opening Day games, including 13 of the past 17, resulting in the best winning percentage of any team on Opening Day (40–21, .656).
🌴 MIAMI: This is the first time since 2011 the Mets will open the season in Miami. They actually lost that game with a lineup that included José Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltrán. Mike Pelfrey started that day.
🏎️ START YOUR ENGINES: Max Scherzer takes the ball today, becoming only the second active pitcher to pitch an opener for and against the same team, per Elias. He will face 2022 NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara, who I will talk much more about in a bit.
⏰ ON THE CLOCK: 2023 brings a host of new rules, which we have covered extensively in this newsletter. Many of you have already experienced the quicker pace by watching spring games, but today will be the first regular season game with a pitch clock. We will be seeing plenty of those crisp 2:40 games I saw with my dad back in 1993. 👉 Find a refresher on the new rules here.
🤕 INJURED: Someone asked yesterday in the chat what had happened to Elieser Hernandez. We soon found out as Hernandez will begin the season on the IL with a right shoulder strain. He had been shut down from throwing after taking anti-inflammatory medicine last week. But he is already throwing again.
To get you ready for all of the action, we have some fun graphics.
📊 LINEUPS: The first is the expected lineups from both teams. Neither team has officially announced their starting lineup, but both should look something like this. You can see how each player fared against the respective starters, how they hit against right-handed pitchers and who offers a platoon advantage on the bench.
🔻 PITCHING: Next is our new bullpen chart. Everyone is rested on Opening Day, but at least you can see who is scheduled to start over the next four days, and which relievers make up the respective bullpens.
Manager Buck Showalter says the team doesn’t plan on naming a closer to replace Edwin Díaz. “If you step back and look at who has done it the most, [Robertson] obviously kind of jumps at you,” Showalter said. “But I want to have a flexible bullpen, and the biggest thing is trying to keep them all healthy and at the same time put our best foot forward.”
These aren’t last year’s Marlins. The Fish enter the 2023 season with high expectations after a disappointing 69-win campaign. New manager Skip Schumaker leads a group that includes one of the game’s best starters, who we will see today in Sandy Alcantara, a budding superstar in Jazz Chishom Jr. and the reigning AL batting champ Luis Arraez, acquired in a blockbuster trade during the offseason.
📈 UPSIDE: FanGraphs projects Miami to finish with an 80–82 record, giving them a 22.7% chance of reaching the playoffs. That would make for a fourth competitive team in an already vicious NL East.
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