The New York Mets came out of nowhere in 2015 to win their first National League Pennant since 2000. And although that the Mets fell short of winning the World Series, the expectations for them were still high when the 2016 Major League Baseball season began. But all season long the Mets have been an up and down team which started when they began the year with a record of 2-5. The Mets have not been under .500 since April 17, but each time that they appear ready to take that next step, they have come crashing back down the earth.
Three times this year the Mets have had the opportunity to go 10 games above .500, only to lose on each occasion. The most recent opportunity for the Mets to go 10 games above .500 came this Friday night when they lost to the Washington Nationals 3-1 which was the prelude to them losing three straight games in the series and falling six games out of first place in the National League East. The Mets have series victories over the defending World Series Champion Kansas City Royals, the San Francisco Giants, and the Chicago Cubs. But the Mets are 7-6 against the lowly Atlanta Braves while also being swept by the Colorado Rockies who themselves are eight games under .500. And after being swept last month at the hands of the Nationals, the Mets appeared to be heading into a tailspin until they righted the ship last weekend in sweeping the Cubs in a four-game series.
However the Mets lost three of four games this weekend at home to the Nats and as they are now trailing Washington by six games for first place in the National League East heading into the All-Star break, they are also tied with the Miami Marlins for the final wild card spot.
The strength of the Mets success is their pitching staff which is what propelled them to the National League Pennant last year. But it hasn’t been all systems go for the Mets pitching staff here in 2016. Starting pitcher Matt Harvey was the National League’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2015 as he posted a 13-8 record with a 2.71 earned run average after he had missed the entire 2014 Major League Baseball season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Harvey hasn’t been right all year as he has attempted to pitch through pain and criticism. Harvey’s record in 2016 is 4-10 with an earned run average of 4.86. Harvey’s season came to a screeching halt last week when he opted to have surgery on his shoulder after he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. Starting pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are each dealing with bone spur issues in the elbow, while Syndergaard won’t appear in this week’s All-Star Game after he was removed in the fifth inning this past Friday night with what the Mets are diagnosing as “arm fatigue”. And those golden arms that the folks in the Big Apple were drooling about in spring training are now spending more time in the infirmary than they are on the mound which is crippling the Mets chances.
And just like year, the Mets offense is still anemic. The Mets are second in the National League in home runs with 122, but most of those have been of the solo variety as they are 13th in runs scored with 335 which includes them scoring two runs or less on 34 occasions this season. The Mets have been without the services of their third baseman and captain David Wright for the majority of 2016 as he has a herniated disc in his neck which will sideline him for the rest of the season. First baseman Lucas Duda is still sidelined with a back injury which has kept him out of action since May 20, while outfielder Juan Lagares recently returned to the roster after suffering a thumb injury. The Mets have talent in their lineup with the likes of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, but they’ve been unable to consistently put it together as a team as it has either been outhouse or penthouse with this offense. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has done several things to shake up the offense which has seen him demoting outfielder Michael Conforto to the minors, and signing infielder Jose Reyes. But just like this time last year, the Mets have been consistently inconsistent, while the Nationals are not the same team that they were at this point in 2015, and the same can be said about the Marlins.
The Mets are far from being dead in the water as they are right there in playoff contention and alot can happen between now and the end of the season which is still two and a half months away, but they must find a way to put it altogether. I do foresee Alderson making more moves between now and the trade deadline as there will soon be some teams that’ll wave the white flag and become sellers which will help a New York team that can use another starting pitcher.
However the All-Star break came at the right time for the Mets as players such as Cespedes and outfielder Curtis Granderson who are attempting to gut it out through nagging injuries need to rest for a few days. And being that Cespedes has the option to opt out of his current contract with the Mets after this season, I do see him getting on another vintage tear at the plate like we witnessed during his two months in New York last year.
The Mets will begin the second half of the season with a nine-game road trip against the Philadelphia Phillies, Cubs, and Marlins. But it really won’t matter who the Mets will face as they can be their own worst enemy at times if they are not hitting. So far we’ve seen plenty of Dr. Jekyll from the Mets, but at some point Mr. Hyde needs to consistently reappear in Flushing in order for this team to get back to the postseason.