The Mets were universal picks to contend and, with a bit of fortune, go deep into the 2020 postseason. Look at them as a last-place team.
The Mets gritted their teeth when they received word Noah Syndergaard was lost for the entire 2020 season.
The news came at the peak of an off-season when the team was still fresh with memories of a strong finish to the 2019 season.
During the second half of the 2019 season and a sweep of the Braves, the Mets ended the year six games over .500.
Visions of Steven Matz finding himself, Marcus Stroman excelling in his walk year, and the tandem of Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha (IL – shoulder issue)- Brodie Van Wagenen’s big experiment – raised the excitement a notch.
Stepping the enthusiasm up, even more, was Jacob deGrom going for a third straight Cy Young, and looking more and more like the best starting pitcher in baseball.
The dysfunction of another front office snafu was swatted away as Luis Rojas seamlessly replaced the disappointing fall of Carlos Beltran as Mets manager.
Last year’s Rookie of the Planet, Pete Alonso couldn’t contain himself with Tweets and quotes in New York newspapers, wondering if the Mets’ new season would ever begin.
The Standings Don’t Lie
Fast forward to find the Mets occupying last place in the National League East with less than forty games to climb over five teams – and it’s hard not to wonder and then ask – what the hell has happened to this team?
￼The answer will not appear in a check of NL Team Batting stats.
The Mets are second in team batting average (.262), in the middle of the pack for runs scored, and first in the league in on-base percentage.
If it’s not the Mets hitting, and the fielding is sound (fifth-best), then it must be the pitching.
Very possibly so, as the Mets have not been able to cover the loss of Syndergaard, the suddenness of Stroman’s decision to opt-out, the inability of Matz to get out of his way, and the disappointing inconsistencies of Wacha and Porcello.
The Mets look down at only four teams that have a worse ERA, and one of them is the Phillies, who just finished a weekend sweep of the Mets.
Mets Lack Of Depth A True Killer
The depth is not there to fill all the holes. When Robert Gsellman, who hasn’t pitched in months, is your latest wish and a prayer to join the rotation, you know nothing is doing anywhere in Metland to reset the course of the ship in this whirlwind season.
As expected, deGrom has continued to pitch on another planet. A kinky neck is a concern, though, and it’s caused him to miss a start. Losing deGrom seals a Mets losing season.
The one hole the Mets, and probably any team, can’t fill is the loss of the Face Of The Team. For the Mets, that player is The Polar Bear.
Pete Alonso is special both on and off the field. He’s the player who returned from Cleveland last year fresh off a win in the Home Run Derby with Jeff McNeil as his number one cheerleader, having seen the feat live as an All-Star himself.
Pete Alonso lives inside his head, and though they have, no one needs to tell him the problem is you can’t hit a six-run home run to rescue your team from another loss.
Much like deGrom, as Alonso goes, so do the Mets.
Though not enough to change the course of the Mets season, Dominic Smith is proving what many have been saying all along. The man can hit, and he “belongs.”
Proof and probably a little known stat is seen at the top of the Major League OPS+ rankings where Smith sits with a 1.25 percent.
Break the stat down, and it means that Dominic Smith is twenty-five percent better than the average major league player in this category.
Where Is The Swagger We Saw And Loved Last Year
But you don’t need to be a baseball scholar of the Mets to date to see they are a team playing minus the confidence of the team that finished 2019.
The front office is still doing its part, though, not to help the team.
Van Wagenen’s handling of the Yoenis Cespedes fiasco marred the Mets season and stunk up the clubhouse big time.
Sending a rookie pitcher out to meet the media and “explain” the mood in the clubhouse following Cespedes’ disappearance into the night was inexcusable.
You might say, though, that it was also inexcusable that not one Mets player broke rank with Van Wagenen’s behavior and deceit with a spin on Cespedes only a fool would believe.
Do The Mets Have A Run In Them?
The bottom of the NL East is not where the Mets will end the season. The Phillies and their non-existing bullpen are worse, and the Marlins will eventually be the Marlins.
Mediocrity puts the Mets where they deserve to be – smack in the middle of nowhere, and long strides behind a spot in the playoffs.
It may not be over until it’s over, but this Mets team is only one series like the one beginning tonight in Miami from being buried in another lost season.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.