2015 seems like a distant memory right now, doesn’t it?
On May 31, 2017, the Mets are 23-27 and 8.5 games behind the division-leading Nationals. Not exactly hopeless, but definitely not where they want or need to be right now.
Sure, the 2016 vintage of this team was 60-62 and went on a tear to capture a Wild Card berth, only to be ousted by Madison “I’m a moron and ride a dirtbike” Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants in the one-game playoff.
So, flash forward to this season. Yoenis Cespedes, one of the biggest free agents on the market, returns to the Mets and signs a four-year deal. It was a coup for the Mets who, by all appearances, were going to be locked out of the La Potenzia Sweepstakes. But, sign he did. And then, three weeks into the season, he pulls a hamstring and hasn’t been seen since.
Before the season even starts, Seth Lugo pitches in the World Baseball Classic and partially tears his UCL. Oft-injured Steven Matz also goes went down and started the season on the DL. But hey, we had 7 viable starters, right? No big deal.
Noah Syndergaard ignores a doctor’s suggestion to get a bicep MRI when he is hurting and subsequently tears his lat muscle rendering him useless for at least two months.
Matt Harvey, coming back from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery shows he may have velocity, but lacks the control and, worse yet, the confidence he once had. His last five starts before last weekend were pretty bad.
Robert GSellman is just now coming back into the form that made him a legit 5th starter last year, but started the season poorly.
Jacob deGrom has been throwing more pitches than usual, but has been pretty much the guy we have come to expect him to be. His last start, he went 8 1/3 innings, giving the bullpen a much-needed rest.
Zach Wheeler throws 100 pitches in two innings, it seems, but he has also started to show more consistency and ability to go deeper into games. This is a very good sign for him and the team.
And well, the bullpen. Sandy Alderson was asleep at the switch in the off-season, doing very little to shore up a perennial weak spot in the roster.
Juerys Familia, never a favorite of mine, personally, starts the season on suspension from a domestic abuse issue. Good job. Then, he gets a blood clot in his shoulder, needs surgery, and goes on the DL for two months himself.
The others like Fernando Salas, Hansel Robles (now in the minors), Addison Reed, Josh Edgin, Josh Smoker, etc. have been inconsistent and overused. Blevins is probably the only reliable guy out of the pen. Only NOW do they seem to be showing signs of coming into form. However, the damage has been done. The combination of starters’ inability go go more than six innings has Collins scrambling, and we all know how bad he is at THAT.
Now, the Mets’ offense has been actually very GOOD this season. They are averaging a robust 5.1 runs a game, and are hitting exceptionally well with RISP, an area in which they have typically struggled.
Their good hitting has masked guys like Granderson, hitting in the .190 range (this is an improvement, actually) and Reyes, batting barely above .220. Neil Walker, after off-season back surgery, has had a slow start, although now is coming around and driving the ball with authority.
Travis d’Arnaud has once again been bitten by the injury bug, but to everyone’s surprise, Rene Rivera has been hitting well above his career average thus far, and his hits have been timely.
Michael Conforto, after a disappointing sophomore season, is having a fantastic start to the season given the chance to play every day and has entrenched himself in the outfield and Jay Bruce is proving he is no Jason Bay, hitting 12 homers, driving in 35, and coming through in the clutch often — as in last night’s walk-off win.
The mixed bag of folks at first when Lucas Duda was out have been OK, and third base, vacant thanks to David Wright’s perpetual and likely career ending injuries, has been filled by Reyes and Wilmer Flores primarily, the latter who has learned to hit right-handed pitching.
Cespedes is about a week away, and once he gets back, someone will sit. My money is on Curtis, who will undoubtedly handle it like a pro.
It’s that vaunted pitching staff that has fallen prey to the aforementioned injury, inconsistency, and performing below expected ability. They say you win championships with pitching, and the Mets will win nothing if they don’t start to turn the corner.
The hints of consistency and improvement, no matter how small, are there. The last four games have had starters going deeper into games and the Mets have won 4 of 5, dropping only one thanks to Addison Reed shitting the bed while closing Saturday night’s game against the Pirates.
Do they Mets have the talent to tear up the league going forward Absolutely. They were many a pundit’s prohibitive favorite to win the NL this year and maybe take it all.
Their schedule isn’t getting any easier for the next month facing the World Champion Chicago Cubs and the Nationals, among others. The time to have made hay was against the Padres (losing two of three was terrible, especially when they should have swept them) and although they won the Pirates series, they ALSO should have swept THEM.
It’s just going to take a torrid run to shake off the mediocre level their record tells us they are playing at to make some waves and now is the time to do it.