Thor favorite to start Opening Day 2017

Syndergaard leading candidate after dominant '16, but Harvey, deGrom also contenders

Thor favorite to start Opening Day 2017

NEW YORK -- With the World Series in the rearview and the National League Wild Card Game ancient history, it's time for all 30 Major League teams to begin looking forward to 2017. Opening Day is barely five months away.

But it's never too soon to start looking forward to that date. As the offseason begins, here's a look at what awaits the Mets come April:

Opponent: The Mets' first 32 games are all against NL East foes, beginning with an Opening Day assignment vs. the Braves at Citi Field. The Mets struggled in 2016 against the last-place Braves, going 9-10 against them. What's more, Atlanta's rebuild seemed to accelerate with a successful second half. If the Braves start Julio Teheran on Opening Day, the Mets could be in trouble; Teheran held a 29 2/3-inning scoreless streak against them last season.

Opening Day starter: Assuming Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard are all healthy, each of them should have a reasonable argument to start Opening Day. But Syndergaard was one of the National League's top pitchers in 2016, and the only one those the three to remain healthy all season. At age 24, he may not have even reached the limits of his potential.

Syndergaard's dominant outing

Opening Day lineup:

1. Jose Reyes, 2B
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. David Wright, 3B
4. Curtis Granderson, CF
5. Jay Bruce, RF
6. Lucas Duda, 1B
7. Michael Conforto, LF
8. Travis d'Arnaud, C
9. Noah Syndergaard, RHP

In reality, the Opening Day lineup will look quite a bit different than this. While Reyes may spend some time at second base, the Mets still stand a decent chance of re-signing Neil Walker or using T.J. Rivera there. They could also acquire a starting catcher to replace d'Arnaud, and it's still anyone's guess as to what happens with outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. If Cespedes returns to the Mets, it will have a domino effect on several other players. The possibilities this early in the offseason are limitless.

Cespedes likely to opt out

Three reasons to be excited:

1. The Mets' uber-rotation of Syndergaard, Harvey, deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler has yet to actually spend any time all together. There is, of course, a chance that never happens. But all five will theoretically be healthy heading into Spring Training, giving the Mets a chance -- finally -- at something truly special.

2. Speaking of health, Wright will be back again in April. Though Wright freely admits he has much to prove after playing in 75 combined games the past two seasons, his personal title chase remains one of the Mets' most intriguing plotlines. A fan favorite and a franchise icon, Wright -- soon to turn 34 years old -- has only so many years left to secure his first ring.

3. The Mets spent years graduating blue-chip pitching prospects to the Majors. Now it's time for the position players to start arriving. Fans saw their first glimpses in 2016 of Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini, two potential long-term solutions. That pair should be part of the '17 equation, with potential late-summer contributions also coming from shortstop Amed Rosario and first baseman Dominic Smith, the Mets' top two prospects according to MLBPipeline.com. Though it won't all happen at once, the next calendar year will begin a transition period for the Mets' lineup.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.