The Miami Marlins are in a hard division and the New York Mets are one of the toughest rivals. They won 101 games last season and were shockingly upset by the San Diego Padres in the NL Wild Card playoff round. That series loss looked like a fluke and after a big off-season it once again seems as if the Mets are legitimate contenders. Iused WAR projections earlier to predict that the Mets will be significantly worse in 2023. I was happy to see that Fangraphs agrees with my evaluation.
The New York Mets might not be as much of a threat for the Miami Marlins.
Spring Training results don't matter as they don't reflect how the season will actually go, still it's interesting to see the Mets are currently 7-9. I will use Fangraphs projections for the team. Let's look at their rotation projections (I will use Fangraphs):
Justin Verlander: 12-9 3.36 Max Scherzer: 13-9 3.32 Jose Quintana: 8-8 4.39 Kodai Senga: 8-10 4.55 Carlos Carrasco: 9-10 4.50. In other words there's Verlander and Scherzer and then 3 mid to bottom of the rotation starters. Quintana is already injured and out until July and Senga has a 4.50 ERA in Spring Training. The rotation rests on Verlander and Scherzer, if either or both struggle the rotation is not that of a playoff team. Chances of both struggling are very high.
Justin Verlander is 40 years old and despite coming off an AL Cy Young award is entering unprecedented territory. Players his age just don't typically perform that well, let alone after missing basically all of the 2020 season (he pitched one game) and the entire 2021 season. I can't imagine how he can hold up for the entire season, I just don't. Max Scherzer is coming off his lowest innings pitched in a full 162 game season since 2008 (his debut season). Scherzer's fastball velocity has declined annually since 2019. He'll be 39 this season.
What about their bullpen? Edwin Diaz is coming off of a historic contract season. When he wasn't playing for a contract, he had a 3.45 ERA in 2021 and a 5.59 ERA in his last two full seasons. I expect his ERA to balloon back up this season. The projections for their bullpen aren't encouraging... Adam Ottavino: 3.76 ERA; David Robertson: 3.70 ERA; Drew Smith: 3.90 ERA; Brooks Raley: 4.28 ERA; Elieser Hernandez: 4.34 ERA; John Curtiss: 4.38 ERA. This is hardly a shutdown bullpen.
How about the batting order?
CF Brandon Nimmo .269/.368/.427 15 HR 61 RBI
RF Starling Marte .267/.326/.417 15 HR 67 RBI
SS Francisco Lindor .253/.325/.435 25 HR 90 RBI
1B Pete Alonso .254/.339/.477 33 HR 102 RBI
2B Jeff McNeil .278/.339/.391 9 HR 63 RBI
DH Dan Vogelbach .221/.348/.401 12 HR 39 RBI
LF Mark Canha .240/.340/.365 10 HR 51 RBI
3B Eduardo Escobar .233/.290/.406 16 HR 59 RBI
C Omar Narvaez .222/.300/.321 6 HR 32 RBI
It's a top-heavy lineup where Alonso and Lindor are really carrying the lineup. The bottom of the lineup is weak, Marte is in decline and Nimmo is injury-prone. An injury or a down season affecting Alonso or Lindor would be really bad for them.
I think that it's unlikely that both Verlander and Scherzer will be dominant this season and I think that their bullpen will be average at best. Add an average lineup to the picture and I wouldn't be surprised at all if the team won 80+ games insteadof the 91 that I earlier projected along with Fangraphs. This makes it easier for the Miami Marlins to pass them with better luck and improvements.