The Mets show remarkable resilience this season, overcoming postponements, snow, now the wind at Wrigley. Just another day at the office…
The New York Mets have sole possession of first place in the National League East where no other team sports a record above .500.
It may not stay that way, but the Mets show they have the fortitude and team dedication that’ll continue to make noise in what is still expected to be MLB’s most competitive division.
Fresh from the snow and cold in Denver, if the Mets are hoping for a break as they roll into Chicago for the first of three tonight at Wrigley, they’ll need to ignore the weather forecast for tonight.
Not a soft freeze, but they’re calling it a hard freeze that will greet Taijuan Walker (0-0, 2.61) and Jake Arrieta (2-1, 3.18) at 7:40 ET tonight.
Mets: Kick ‘Em When They’re Down
Kick ’em when they’re down should be on the minds of the Mets as they face a Cubs team at the bottom of the NL Central with a run differential of -23 and a mind-boggling team batting average of .192, also the worst in the major leagues.
In a season where no team is lighting it up at the plate as pitchers dominate thus far, the .246 Mets team batting average, while nothing to write home about, is still the eighth-best in the league.
Mets pitching continues to carry the team in the wake of 37 runs scored over 13 games (last in the majors) and a teeny home run total of six, the only team yet to break the double-digit mark.
Except for Brandon Nimmo (.447 BA, .543 OBP, 17 hits – all team leaders), the Mets, much like the Cubs, are waiting and hoping the bats will eventually catch up, relieving the pressure on the pitching staff.
The Mets starting staff especially has shown itself to be adaptable to unexpected days off, led by Jacob deGrom, who shrugged off two idle days before dominating the Colorado Rockies in a come-from-behind Mets win.
Tonight’s starter Taijuan Walker, for example, last made an appearance a week ago on April 13 in a win over the Phillies in which he struck out eight over 4.1 innings.
Tomorrow’s starter for the Mets, David Peterson, will have seven days since his last start, while deGrom will go with regular rest on Thursday.
Benefiting the Mets are the upcoming makeup seven-inning doubleheaders scheduled for later this season and the opportunity for starts to (actually!) throw a complete game without taxing the bullpen.
Nor are Mets fans complaining about the “bonus” rehab time afforded to Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco, both of whom are expected back in a matter of weeks.
Mets Bats Need To Come Alive
But if the Mets are going anywhere this year, they need to score runs and hit with some authority.
Francisco Lindor is not going to hit .189 for the rest of the year. Michael Conforto is not a .200 hitter, even though he faces the pressure of playing in his walk-year before reaching the unknown of free agency.
Pete Alonso (.250 2HR, 7RBI) is pressing as he did last year, but there’s no reason to think the answer will come soon, and hopefully before the Home Run Derby at this year’s All-Star Game at Coors Field.
Dominic Smith (.229 BA, .263 OBP, .429 SLG) and Jeff McNeil (.176, .263, .324) are both proven major league hitters whose numbers will climb further up, and perhaps to even higher plateaus than ever reached before.
A sweep of the Cubs or at least two out three will bring the Mets home to face the sputtering Washington Nationals for three games, followed by a two-game set against the surprisingly red-hot Boston Red Sox.
By then, temperatures will have crept closer to normal for this time of the year in the Northeast, regularly reaching into the ’60s with only next Sunday’s game threatened with an 87% chance of rain at Yankee Stadium.
Mets: Finding A Rhythm And Routine
Finding a rhythm, establishing a routine is what the Mets have been coping with thus far, especially regarding their hitters who can take hours of batting practice in the cage – but nothing equals facing live pitching in a “real” game.
The Mets have done well, all things considered, and given their disjointed schedule.
At the moment, it’s the Philadelphia Phillies facing adversity with an unexpected outbreak of COVID-19, leaving at least three players and more coaches on the sidelines.
Any team is subject to a hiccup of this kind as the 2021 season moves forward.
Accordingly, the Mets are walking the tightrope between encouraging and requiring their players (especially) to receive the vaccine made available to them, along with educational information.
Results are mixed among Mets players, but the enticing bone is thrown out there by MLB releasing protocols and restrictions on teams that achieve an 85% vaccination rate, says those individual decisions of players clearly supersedes playing through poor weather in Chicago tonight.
You Cannot Dislike This Mets Team
You can’t not like this New York Mets team.
You don’t have to go ga-ga over them as some are inherently prone to do with teams like the Yankees, the perennial favorites to play in the World Series.
But we do need to give them to give the Mets the respect they are earning so that every team who sees them on their schedule takes a moment to notice, reminding themselves – we’d better be ready.
‘Cause if you’re not, take your chances that the Mets will be.