Mets' roster mostly holds to expectations

Matz, Lagares injuries provide only shake-ups to offseason predictions

Mets' roster mostly holds to expectations

NEW YORK -- All told, the Mets' roster never changed shape much from the start of Spring Training to the end. Steven Matz's injury changed things, as did Juan Lagares'. But in most other corners of the roster, the Mets look much like manager Terry Collins thought they would two months ago.

Here's one last look at that roster before the Mets make it official:

Catcher (2): Travis d'Arnaud and Rene Rivera
The only surprise here is that Rivera, not d'Arnaud, is likely to be behind home plate on Opening Day. That doesn't mean Rivera is the starter. But until d'Arnaud demonstrates marked improvement against the running game -- he didn't catch a single basestealer in Grapefruit League action, excepting a pickoff play -- he will rest in games that Noah Syndergaard starts.

Thor, d'Arnaud on run game

First base (2): Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores
A more interesting question is not who plays first base regularly, but who will start there for Game 3 of the season, when the Mets face a left-handed pitcher for the first time. Duda has proven that he's capable of hitting lefties for power, but the Mets are going to look for spots to insert Flores into games. First and second base are the latter's best defensive positions.

Duda's three-run homer

Second base (2): Neil Walker and T.J. Rivera
Walker is the unquestioned starter here, though like Duda, he should receive strategic off-days against lefties. Rivera is similar to Flores and Ty Kelly in that he will play multiple positions; he could have easily been listed under third base here.

Shortstop (1): Asdrubal Cabrera
With Jose Reyes now the starter at third, the Mets will count on the 31-year-old Cabrera to exceed 140 games at shortstop again. That means paying careful attention to his knees, which were an issue at times last season.

Cabrera's swift play in the hole

Third base (2): Reyes and Kelly
Even with David Wright opening the year on the disabled list, the Mets have plenty of depth at the hot corner. In addition to Reyes and Kelly, Rivera and Flores are both capable of playing here -- and likely will, as Collins mixes and matches his infield depth.

Outfield (4): Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto
Injuries to Lagares and Brandon Nimmo freed up space for the Mets to carry Conforto, their only other healthy center-field backup. Conforto's primary role, however, will be as a left-handed pinch-hitter. Until Lagares returns from the disabled list -- likely as soon as he's eligible on April 10 -- Granderson will shoulder the lion's share of work in center. Cespedes and Bruce are the starters in left and right, respectively.

Conforto's nice sliding catch

Rotation (5): Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman
Matz's elbow soreness opened a rotation spot for Wheeler, who impressed the Mets all spring with his mid-90s fastball and the overall quality of his stuff. Though Wheeler will be on an innings limit during the regular season, the Mets consider that a soft limit dependent on his health and performance. Also impressive this spring was Gsellman, who will join the rotation for Game 6. Syndergaard will pitch the Mets' first and fifth games, with deGrom, Harvey and Wheeler taking spots two through four.

Wheeler on making Mets rotation

Bullpen (7): Addison Reed, Fernando Salas, Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles, Josh Smoker, Josh Edgin and Rafael Montero
Seth Lugo's arm fatigue means that Montero will round out the bullpen behind a familiar cast of characters. As expected, Jeurys Familia will serve a suspension to start the regular season, forcing Reed into the closer's role. Salas and Blevins will serve as his right- and left-handed setup men, with Robles and Smoker -- both of whom are coming off strong camps -- filling in behind him. Edgin improved mightily from the start of spring to the end, making the team in part because he was out of Minor League options.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for 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.