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The Kings of Queens

Living and breathing the New York Mets through words and video

Yo lifts Mets to 5th straight win, 10th in last 12

Yoneis Cespedes greets his teammates at home plate after hitting a pinch-hit, game-tying, three-run home run in the seventh inning of New York's 4-3 comeback win over the Reds. Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Yoneis Cespedes greets his teammates at home plate after hitting a pinch-hit, game-tying, three-run home run in the seventh inning of New York's 4-3 comeback win over the Reds.
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Yoenis Cespedes needed only one pitch to drill a pinch hit, game-tying three-run homer that sparked yet another come-back win for the Mets, New York's fifth-straight win.

The game-tying shot in the seventh inning came as little-to-no-surprise for these Mets (12-7), who will stop at nothing to find ways into the April win column, especially when it comes to the long ball.

The Mets hit an MLB-leading 16 home runs the past seven days. New York is tied for second-best with 29 total home runs thus far into the season and they now have ten wins over the past dozen contests.

Tuesday's win was also thanks in large part to the bullpen's dominant final four frames. 

Logan Verrett, Addison Reed and Juerys Familia kept the Reds scoreless beyond the fifth inning. The Mets bullpen ERA is now down to 2.86 and owns the second-best K/9 in the league at 10.96. As of late, the pen has only allowed five total runs over the last 24 innings. 

Can the Mets Train be stopped? At the rate they are going it looks like a nearly-impossible mission to cool down the defending National League Champs. 

Keep on rolling, boys! 

Syndergaard overpowers Royals in stellar season debut

Syndergaard hammered down Royals hitters with 95-mph sliders and 99-mph fastballs to earn the Mets' first victory of the season.

As if Noah Syndergaard hadn't already solidified himself as one of baseball's emerging young hurlers last season, the 23-year-old kicked-off 2016 with a dominating performance over the World Champion Kansas City Royals in a 2-0 Mets win, the team's first of this regular season. 

Syndergaard held the Royals to six scoreless innings of three hit ball with nine strikeouts, escaping jams in the first and sixth innings via the punch-out to keep Kansas City off the scoreboard. Thor was so impressive that he retired 15 of 16 batters at one point, including a dozen straight.

Syndergaard's overpowering presence on the mound Tuesday afternoon appeared to be one of his more dominating outings in his short-lived career thus far. His fastball and sinker topped out at 100 mph three different times, showing his utilization of warp speed velocity, while his slider took responsibility for six of the Royals' nine strikeouts. 

Let's not forget that Kansas City prides itself on a successful contact-oriented approach, meaning rarely do Royals hitters see strike three at the plate. I'm sure the first to understand that was Syndergaard, who showed that power-pitching can win ball games, too. 

Solid starting pitching may have been a missing factor for the Mets in the World Series because of the way the Royals executed deep in counts at the plate, but outings like this is what the organization and fan base have come to expect on any given day, even if it's a new year. If Syndergaard can mow down the Royals, it's unimaginable what his potential upside is moving forward with virtually the entire season remaining. 

Even recent Hall of Fame inductee Pedro Martinez suggested that Thor has the chance to become unhittable, as if he hasn't practically achieved that already.

That's some high-praise from one of the all-time greats who knows just what it takes to become unhittable. 

For the Mets, though, 2016 is like any other clean slate; a brand new season filled with great anticipation precisely because of performances like Syndergaard's. 

Tuesday's shutout victory was a blatant reminder of why the Mets found themselves in the World Series against the Royals. And just like that, the 2016 season provides an early statement from the defending National League Champions saying that last year was no fluke. 

What to expect from the Mets pitching staff in 2016

Noah Syndergaard throwing in Game 3 of last year's World Series against the Royals. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Noah Syndergaard throwing in Game 3 of last year's World Series against the Royals.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Regular season baseball begins this Sunday evening when the defending World Champion Kansas City Royals host the runner-up New York Mets. What should we come to expect from the NL Champions' youthful collection of pitchers? Below is everything you need to know about the staff before Opening Day:

1. The starting rotation order is not set-in-stone

Terry Collins has yet to announce a definite starting rotation order. What we do know is Matt Harvey will get the nod for the season opener in Kansas City, Noah Syndergaard will start Game 2 on Tuesday and Jacob deGrom is expected to start in the home opener against Philadelphia next Friday. In terms of whether we see Colon or Harvey on Saturday against the Phillies, Collins said, "We'll just wait and see," depending on the game circumstances of the first few days. Colon will be available in relief for each of the games in Kansas City and Steven Matz will be available out of the bullpen for Tuesday's contest. 

2. Harvey struggled tremendously in spring training

Dealing with a blood clot in his bladder, Matt Harvey's progression since the start of spring training has rapidly declined. Harvey owns a 7.50 ERA in Grapefruit League play, allowing 10 earned runs over 12 innings of work. Manager Terry Collins is not worried, however, saying it's only spring training and that he's only concerned with how Harvey throws on Sunday night. After surrendering three runs over two innings in a 12-1 loss to the Nationals, Harvey declined to speak with reporters "seemingly" because he was annoyed over the treatment of his blood clot. Nonetheless, the Dark Knight will get his first career Opening Day start. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Harvey's career winning percentage in the month of April is 1.000 (8-0 in 10 starts), so there's that. 

3. Wheeler expected to fill No. 5 role around early July

Wheeler missed all of the 2015 regular season with successful Tommy John surgery in March of last year.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Zack Wheeler continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery and is expected to return to the big-league rotation around July 1. Bartolo Colon is Terry Collins' best alternative option to fill the shoes of Wheeler, who has not pitched in a major league game since September 25, 2014 when he finished the year at 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA over 185.1 innings. 

4. Rotation set for "easiest" opening schedule among NL teams

New York's starting rotation is eyeing an "easy" opening schedule. Following the first two games in Kansas City, the Mets play 19 of its next 28 games against Philadelphia, Atlanta, Cincinnati and San Diego. Those four teams combined for a .414 winning percentage in 2015. The Mets will also see Miami, Cleveland and San Francisco before the month of May, whom combined for a slightly-better .487 winning percentage in 2015.

5. Matz considered a favorite for NL Rookie of the Year

Matz, who is still eligible as a rookie pitching prospect, went 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA over 35.2 regular season innings in 2015.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Matz only pitched in 35.2 regular season innings last year, but the rookie gained valuable postseason experience with an additional 14.2 innings or work in October. That being said, the experts believe Matz has serious Rookie of the Year potential heading into 2016, and who's really to blame them? The fiery 24-year-old southpaw took the majors by storm last season, failing to lose in six regular season starts or allow more than three runs in any of those outings. 

6. We must not forget about the bullpen!

Familia tied the Mets' single-season franchise record for saves with 43 last season.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets are confident in their late-inning relievers who seem like viable options for bridging the all-significant gap to closer Juerys Familia. Expect to see Antonio Bastardo--who had a relatively strong season in Pittsburgh last year--from the right side of the plate and Addison Reed from the left as New York's main set-up men. Righty Hansel Robles and lefties Jeremy Blevins and Sean Gilmartin are expected to compliment Bastardo, Reed and Familia, although there is a string of possibility that Logan Verrett takes the place of Gilmartin. The Mets bullpen ranked seventh in the NL last season with a 3.48 ERA. That same pen also ranked last in the NL in the number of innings pitched, which highlights the starters' abilities to pitch deep into games. The Mets would love nothing more than to see that trend repeated in 2016. 

If you happen to root for the Mets then you are understandably excited for what looks to be a hopeful, more-promising-than-not 2016. (Crazy, right?) Look no further than this hype video which will hopefully restore your faith in the Amazins' 2016 chances as a legitimate World Series contender: 

Thanks for reading, everyone! Have a happy remainder of spring, and remember, Let's Go Mets!