<
>

Morning Briefing: Bring on the Nationals!

4/6/2015

WASHINGTON --

FIRST PITCH: If the New York Mets are going to make noise in the NL East, they are going to have to get through the Washington Nationals. So the Amazin’s might as well see how they stack up right away.

The Mets and Nationals christen their seasons at 4:05 p.m. ET on Monday in D.C.

ESPN as well as SNY will televise the game.

Bartolo Colon becomes the oldest Opening Day starter in franchise history at 41 years, 317 days old. He surpasses Tom Glavine (41 years, 7 days) in 2007.

Colon opposes former AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, who signed a $210 million free-agent deal in January.

The Mets went 4-15 against Washington last season. That unsightly record came within one loss of matching the franchise record for most defeats against a single opponent in a season. The Mets were 2-16 against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1962 and against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1963, during the organization’s infancy.

The Nats outhomered the Mets 26-7 last season.

On a positive note, the Mets own the best Opening Day winning percentage in the majors, at .642 (34-19). That’s despite losing every opener in the 1960s to begin the franchise’s existence.

The Mets’ first 16 games come against division rivals. Also, 23 of the first 26 are against the NL East. So getting off to a positive start is doubly essential.

The Mets might be facing Washington at an opportune time, with Jayson Werth, Denard Span, Anthony Rendon, Nate McLouth and Casey Janssen all opening the season on the disabled list. Those injuries paved the way for ex-Met Matt den Dekker to make the Nats’ Opening Day roster.

Read the Mets-Nats series preview here.

MONDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:

  • The Mets and Lucas Duda have tabled talks about a long-term extension now that the season is set to begin, agent Dan Horwits told ESPN.com. Read more in Newsday and at NJ.com.

  • CC Sabathia tells Anthony McCarron in the Daily News that the Yankees are not ceding the city to the Mets. "I’m not going to sit here and start a war of words back and forth with the Mets, but I don’t see it," Sabathia tells McCarron. "That’s all I got to say. I don’t see it happening. They’ve got some good young players, but >.. yeah, they have some good young players."

  • Steve Serby in the Post has a Q&A with broadcasters Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling. Darling’s win prediction? "I think it’s gonna be 90 wins this year," he tells Serby. "And I think it’s gonna be just like the Mets team in ‘84 that won 90 games. I don’t know where they’re gonna finish, and I don’t know if it’s gonna include a wild-card spot or an NL East championship. But I think 90 wins is definitely attainable with this club. I think that this club, to me, smells a lot like the ‘84 team -- a really good team that knows they’re a good team, that is gonna make their mark. Whether that translates to the postseason, I don’t know. But really, this is a journey forward for the first time in a while."

  • Manager Terry Collins did not release his lineup on Sunday. Still, Collins sounded in Texas like a potential order of Juan Lagares, Curtis Granderson, David Wright, Duda, Daniel Murphy, Michael Cuddyer, Wilmer Flores, Travis d’Arnaud and Colon is plausible. Marc Carig in Newsday instead hears the Mets might go with Granderson leading off, followed by Wright, Duda, Cuddyer, Murphy, Flores, Lagares, Colon and d’Arnaud.

  • Columnist Anthony Rieber in Newsday suggests Matt Harvey, not Colon, merited the Opening Day start. Rieber notes that Dwight Gooden, not Ed Lynch, started the opener in ’86. Read more on Colon as the Opening Day starter in the Post.

  • Mike Vorkunov at NJ.com cites internal team data that suggests the rotation and bite on Harvey’s pitches was better in spring training than during his dominating 2013 season. Read more on Harvey in the Daily News.

  • Collins tells columnist Kevin Kernan in the Post: "This is the year." Read more on higher expectations in the Record.

  • Vorkunov at NJ.com asks if Collins is on the hot seat.

  • Flores tells Mike Puma in the Post about shortstop: "I know I can do the job."

  • Wright, now 32 years old and the captain, tells columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post that the years fly by "faster than you’d believe." Read more from Wright in the Daily News.

  • Third base coach/’86 Met Tim Teufel, who spoke at a team meeting late in camp, tells Carig in Newsday: "The feeling is we’re not just competing anymore, that we expect to go out there and win. I think that's a big difference in thought. I think we know we have a good team. The pieces are here to do it. We've just got to execute."

  • Michael Salfino in the Journal takes a statistical look at Jacob deGrom, including how past Rookie of the Year winners perform as sophomores. Salfino notes that the 25 other winners collectively had their ERA rise from 2.91 as a rookie to 3.53 in their second year. Still, he notes that past Mets winners Dwight Gooden and Tom Seaver had lower ERAs as sophomores.

  • Vorkunov at NJ.com finds an expert, Dan Rosenheck, who believes spring training stats do matter.

  • Read more on the Mets-Nats matchup in the Post and at MLB.com.

  • Michael Powell in the Times predicts 84 wins for the Mets.

  • Stuart Elliott in the Times offers the view of a Mets fan.

  • The Atlanta Braves continued to take short-term steps backward for long-term success. They traded closer Craig Kimbrel and outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. to the San Diego Padres on the eve of the season. Read more in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  • From the bloggers ... Mets Report outlines question marks with the team.

BIRTHDAYS: Andy Phillips turns 38.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU’RE UP: Will the Mets finish the season with a better record than the Yankees?