MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

For starters, Mets' rotation best in business

Indians, Nationals, Cubs, Blue Jays round out top 5

For starters, Mets' rotation best in business

Let's celebrate this final lead-up to Opening Day by doing what we baseball fans do best -- arguing!

Each day through Friday, I'm going to present my personal top five in the following categories: rotations (today), lineups (Wednesday), bullpens (Thursday) and overall depth and flexibility (Friday). These are power rankings with admittedly little predictive value, because teams will inevitably rise and fall as injuries, trades and unexpected boosts or busts enter the equation. But for now, here are the five clubs with the best rotation alignments at the start of the season.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rivera homers, Wheeler goes 5 scoreless

Rivera homers, Wheeler goes 5 scoreless

JUPITER, Fla. -- Zack Wheeler brought the heat, tossing five shutout innings while blazing a fastball that topped at 96 mph, and T.J. Rivera blasted a three-run homer, powering the Mets to a 5-0 win over the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium on Monday.

Wheeler, competing with Seth Lugo for New York's fifth-starter spot, scattered two hits and struck out three in his 70-pitch outing. Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler cruised for five innings, but an error in the sixth cleared the way for a five-run frame.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

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.

Lugo hurts cause, allows 3 homers vs. Nats

Lugo hurts cause, allows 3 homers vs. Nats

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- If there were any lingering concerns with Nats right-hander Max Scherzer's status for the start of the season, his outing in Monday afternoon's 6-0 victory against a Mets split squad should help quell them. Scherzer struck out seven in five scoreless innings and was backed by a pair of Bryce Harper home runs (his seventh and eighth of the spring) and two solo shots by Trea Turner.

Scherzer did not allow a hit until the fifth inning and only surrendered two on the day as he mowed through the Mets' lineup, twice fanning former Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow, for 85 pitches in five innings.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rivera among top prospect performers

Mancini, Mullins combine for big day offensively

Rivera among top prospect performers

Orioles prospects Trey Mancini and Cedric Mullins combined to go 4-for-4 with four RBIs and three runs scored in Baltimore's 11-9 loss to the Red Sox on Monday.

Mancini, the Orioles' No. 5 prospect, scored two runs and drove in two more, while Mullins, who replaced Mancini in the eighth inning, drove in two runs as well.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Matz starts off throwing program pain-free

Matz starts off throwing program pain-free

JUPITER, Fla. -- A day after admitting to a bout of left elbow discomfort that puts his Opening Day roster spot in jeopardy, Steven Matz returned to the field Monday to begin a throwing program. Matz threw approximately 55 long tosses at the Mets' Spring Training complex in Port St. Lucie reporting no discomfort after that session.

"I wasn't too worried about it," Matz said. "It felt good."

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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.

Wheeler gives Mets even more to think about

Wheeler gives Mets even more to think about

JUPITER, Fla. -- There may have been nothing Zack Wheeler could have done Monday to convince the Mets that, despite an uneven spring and the complications of his innings limit, he deserves a spot in the Opening Day rotation.

But if that door was open even a crack for Wheeler, he did his best to take a sledgehammer to it. Saving his best Grapefruit League outing for last, Wheeler held the Marlins scoreless over five efficient innings in a 5-0 win at Roger Dean Stadium. As Seth Lugo served up a quartet of runs to the Nationals a few dozen miles north in Port St. Lucie, Wheeler offered the Mets an impassioned closing argument.

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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.

Rotation depth may be Mets' goal at Deadline

Expected to make 3rd straight postseason run, NY may need backup if a starter falters

Rotation depth may be Mets' goal at Deadline

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- If the elbow tightness affecting Steven Matz this month reminded the Mets of anything, it's that pitching depth is paramount. The Mets already knew that, of course, after leaning on Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo last summer when Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Matz faltered.

But the Mets don't have as much obvious depth this season. Though they run seven-deep with quality big league starters, from their top four to Gsellman, Lugo and Zack Wheeler, the drop-off after that bunch is noticeable. And for a Mets team that used 12 starting pitchers last summer, it could quickly become relevant.

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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.

Harvey hits 97 mph in best spring start

Harvey hits 97 mph in best spring start

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Don't be fooled: Matt Harvey was well aware of his flagging spring velocity and what people thought about it. Knowing that, Mets manager Terry Collins figured Harvey was determined to show off on Sunday, dialing his heater up to a monthly high of 97 mph in the Mets' 8-2 win over the Braves.

Perhaps some part of Harvey wanted to prove it to himself, also.

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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.

Lagares feels 'way better' day after injury

Lagares feels 'way better' day after injury

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Though Juan Lagares won't know his fate for certain until he undergoes an MRI early this week, the Mets outfielder woke up Sunday with his left oblique feeling "way better than yesterday." Lagares had strained the muscle in the third inning of Saturday's game against the Braves.

"I know I feel something, but it's not real bad," Lagares said.

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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.

Harvey goes 6 strong, Reyes bangs 3 hits

Harvey goes 6 strong, Reyes bangs 3 hits

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Matt Harvey delivered six strong innings in his best outing of the spring on Sunday, leading the Mets to an 8-2 win over the Braves at First Data Field.

Harvey, who came into the afternoon 0-4 with a 7.30 ERA, topped out at 97 mph early in the afternoon. Though his velocity decreased throughout the day, Harvey maintained a low- to mid-90s fastball while holding the Braves to five hits and two runs. He struck out four.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

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.

deGrom sets sights on 200 innings

Starter works six-plus frames in Minor League outing

deGrom sets sights on 200 innings

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jacob deGrom looked to his left and to his right, down a row of lockers reserved for Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler.

"It's not easy to go out there and throw 200 innings -- I don't think anybody here has, not including playoffs," deGrom said, nodding toward the lockers. "So that's kind of the next thing for us, to get out there and make the 35 starts and get to that 200 mark."

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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.

Conforto goes deep, Montero fires 5 strong

Conforto goes deep, Montero fires 5 strong

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Michael Conforto homered before R.A. Dickey settled into a groove and Rafael Montero provided five strong innings as the Mets claimed a 3-0 win over the Braves on Saturday afternoon at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex.

Before having to exit in the third inning with a strained left oblique muscle, Juan Lagares opened the game with a triple and scored on a passed ball. Conforto added to Dickey's early frustration when he drilled a 2-0 fastball deep over the right-center field wall to provide a two-run cushion before a pitch was thrown by Montero, who scattered four hits over five scoreless innings.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

d'Arnaud focuses on run game in Minors appearance

d'Arnaud focuses on run game in Minors appearance

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Travis d'Arnaud understands the reality that his grip on the Mets' catching job is tenuous. He is not deaf to manager Terry Collins' recent assertion that backup Rene Rivera has a strong chance to start over him on Opening Day. And if that happens?

"I'm going to feel exactly how I have felt, and I will always feel," d'Arnaud said. "Whatever the team thinks is going to get us to the World Series, I'm in."

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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.

Syndergaard fans five in next-to-last start

Syndergaard fans five in next-to-last start

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Derek Fisher stole three bases and scored the Astros' first run off Noah Syndergaard on Friday, leading Houston to a 2-0 win over the Mets at First Data Field.

Running at will against Syndergaard, who allowed the most stolen bases in Major League Baseball by a wide margin last season, Fisher singled and swiped his first two bags in the second inning. Then he singled again, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Reid Brignac's RBI single in the fifth.

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

SBs continue to haunt d'Arnaud, Syndergaard

Collins thinking about starting Rivera on Opening Day

SBs continue to haunt d'Arnaud, Syndergaard

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Offensively, Travis d'Arnaud has done everything the Mets have asked of him this spring. Featuring a swing stripped of its most complicated mechanical components, d'Arnaud is hitting .325 with two home runs in 41 Grapefruit League at-bats. His .963 OPS offers a glimpse of the type of slugger the Mets have long hoped he might become.

But in combining with Noah Syndergaard to allow four stolen bases in the Mets' 2-0 loss to the Astros on Friday, d'Arnaud fell to 0-for-12 throwing out runners this season. Afterward, manager Terry Collins suggested that light-hitting backup Rene Rivera is a strong candidate to start over d'Arnaud behind the plate on Opening Day.

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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.

Gsellman bolsters rotation case with strong start

Right-handed prospect allows one unearned run in longest spring outing

Gsellman bolsters rotation case with strong start

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Robert Gsellman furthered his case to be the Mets' No. 5 starter, with another quality outing on Thursday against the Nationals at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Gsellman, the Mets' No. 5 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, pitched 5 1/3 innings in a 1-0 Mets loss, his longest start of the spring, allowing four hits and an unearned run. He walked two and struck out two, in a relatively efficient 79-pitch (56 strikes) outing.

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Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mets reveal all the new delights at Citi Field

Chicken parm sandwiches, Jim Beam Bourbon Bar highlight additions for '17

Mets reveal all the new delights at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- The tarp refused to leave the infield. Crews pumped 5,000 BTUs of heat underneath it on Thursday, as Bill Deacon and his grounds crew have been doing around the clock. It was the last clutches of a hard winter's end, an unusual effort that Deacon said was "to keep the frost layer out of the infield dirt" and make sure the Mets have a worthy, not mushy, playing surface for their March 31 exhibition against Army and their April 3 Opening Day date with Atlanta.

But weather is no match for baseball.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cabrera ejected following timeout tiff

Cabrera ejected following timeout tiff

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Mets shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was ejected in the fourth inning of Thursday's 1-0 loss to the Nationals.

Cabrera argued with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez after he was denied a timeout call before a pitch from Nats starter Erick Fedde that was deemed a called strike. Cabrera stood and argued with the umpire before Hernandez instructed him to get back in the batter's box.

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Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gsellman sharp, but Mets drop duel to Nats

Gsellman sharp, but Mets drop duel to Nats

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A pair of top pitching prospects turned in impressive performances during a 1-0 Nationals victory over the Mets on a rain-soaked afternoon at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Thursday.

Both right-handers, Erick Fedde of the Nationals and Robert Gsellman of the Mets, were unaffected through the sloppy conditions Thursday that caused a 42-minute rain delay at the beginning of the game.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Mets on Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

HOFer Raines holds court before Mets-Nats

Soon-to-be Cooperstown inductee talks WBC 2017, induction speech

HOFer Raines holds court before Mets-Nats

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Hall of Famer Tim Raines watched Mets players compete for the Puerto Rican team in Wednesday's World Baseball Classic final, but his allegiance remained with the United States team.

A roving outfield and baserunning instructor for the Nats, Raines talked about the games and his election into the Hall of Fame during a 40-minute rain delay before he threw out the ceremonial first pitch for Thursday's Mets-Nationals game at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

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Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Grandy homers twice, Bruce adds another vs. Marlins

Grandy homers twice, Bruce adds another vs. Marlins

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Curtis Granderson hit a pair of homers and drove in five runs, but Tyler Moore also knocked two long balls, including the go-ahead shot in the eighth inning, in the Marlins' 15-9 win over the Mets on Wednesday at First Data Field.

Granderson belted a monstrous two-run homer to right off Miami starter Scott Copeland in the first and a two-run dinger off Javy Guerra in the sixth. Jay Bruce also went deep for the Mets on a solo shot in the fifth -- his second of the spring.

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Bill Whitehead is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

PR's Lugo not sharp in final against US

PR's Lugo not sharp in final against US

Seth Lugo took the mound for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic final against the United States on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, looking to put his team in position for its first Classic title after falling just short in 2013.

The 27-year-old Mets right-hander struggled to keep the U.S. bats in check, however, going four-plus innings, giving up four runs on five hits, while walking four and striking out seven in Puerto Rico's 8-0 loss.

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Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Return of the Mets: Familia, Reyes back in action

Return of the Mets: Familia, Reyes back in action

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets welcomed some familiar and important faces back to their lineup on Wednesday.

After some time away from playing in the Grapefruit League, third baseman Jose Reyes, closer Jeurys Familia and right fielder Jay Bruce were all back in action in a 15-9 loss to the Marlins at First Data Field.

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Bill Whitehead is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baseball renaissance man Green dies at 82

Manager of Phillies' 1980 championship team had MLB career spanning 5-plus decades

Baseball renaissance man Green dies at 82

Dallas Green -- the larger-than-life figure who helped build the Phillies' farm system in the 1970s and then pushed, prodded and occasionally outraged many of the same players on the way to the franchise's first World Series championship in 1980 -- passed away on Wednesday after a long illness. He was 82.

Green became general manager of the Cubs in 1982. Two years later, the team made it to the postseason for the first time since '45. That year, he was named Baseball Executive of the Year by The Sporting News, UPI and ESPN, as well as Chicago's Man of the Year by the Chicago Press Club. Green took on the additional role of team president from '85-87 and became an active proponent of having lights installed at Wrigley Field.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Photo: Tebow donned his new Fireflies jersey

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Photo: Tebow donned his new Fireflies jersey

When you hear Fireflies, you likely either think of running around the backyard in your youth or the cruelly canceled Joss Whedon show. That's all changed now thanks to Tim Tebow. 

After appearing in Mets camp and even lacing a few singles (going 4-for-20 with five strikeouts), Tebow has been assigned to the Columbia Fireflies, the team's Class A affiliate. 

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Green's candor, passion leave lasting impact

Green's candor, passion leave lasting impact

Nobody in the game rode taller in the saddle than Dallas Green. Not 6-foot-7 Frank Howard nor 6-foot-11 Jon Rauch. Green was baseball's John Wayne, so upright and rigid and with such a commanding voice. Whatever he lacked vertically -- and he didn't lack much -- was inconsequential. Green compensated for it with stature that was visible, audible and quite palpable. He had presence that commanded recognition and a voice that could fill -- and oftentimes did -- Veterans, Yankee and Shea Stadiums. They didn't call him Big D for his defense. Perhaps it stood for decibels.

Few who were part of the game in the past half-century cut so distinctive a figure as the man who managed the Phillies, Yankees and Mets and was the Cubs' general manager -- all in an 18-year period. He was Dashing Dallas -- silver-haired, 6-foot-5, so vertical. He had a penchant for bright clothing and was readily recognizable from a distance. His volume made him conspicuous from a greater distance. The late Phils coach John Vukovich, one of Green's great pals, once said: "Light travels faster than sound, but not with Big D. You usually hear him before he gets where he's going."

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Marty Noble is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.