The New York Mets kickoff the 2010 season at CitiField versus the Florida Marlins. I got to say it’s nice to see them starting the season, rather than finishing the season playing them (as all Met fans know why).

Even though the Mets have upgraded their offense in the offseason by signing slugger Jason Bay, they failed to bring in a quality arm to complement their ace, Johan Santana, at the top of the rotation.

They are facing a team in the Marlins that has not changed much from last year, besides having a more experienced roster. Known for their youth, all the pitchers are one year older and Josh Johnson has become an ace. Last year he proved that he has incredible stuff, especially against the Mets. In fact, Johnson has never lost a game against the club, going 3-0 against them in ’09 and 7-0 lifetime with a 2.30 ERA.

Thus, the keys to the game will be pitching. Both clubs have tremendous sluggers, but it’s going to come down to the performances of Santana and Johnson.

Key Player for the Mets: Johan Santana needs to prove that his awful Spring Training was just a fluke, and come out throwing hard and trusting that nasty changeup of his. That will be the only way the Mets win this opening game.

Key Player for the Marlins: Hanley Ramirez, the NL batting champ in ’09, needs to hit. He is only 2 for 16 against Santana lifetime with 6 strikeouts. He needs to step up in order to get his offense going to win the opener.

Sidenote: The Mets need to get off to a strong start in April (16 of the 23 games are played at home) or Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel’s jobs will be in jeopardy.

Photo Credit: blogs.palmbeachpost.com/marlins and www.nerve.com