New York Mets: Mid-Season Review

Baseball season is in full swing and division races throughout the league are taking shape and it is do or die time for plenty of teams throughout the league, including the Mets.

To this point in the season, the Mets have had a lot of ups and downs, as every team has. Their lineup has been great at times and dreadful at others. The starting rotation, which was supposed to be the big strength of this team has been inconsistent, to say the least. The bullpen had been good at a point. At least I think it was.

When you add up all of those inconsistencies you come up with the Mets record, which is 37-44 with a 9 games remaining before the All-Star break against the Phillies, Braves, Yankees, and the Phillies again. This is the hardest stretch of the Mets’ season and if they can’t find a way to get within a game or two of .500 at a minimum the season is likely over.

To get to .500 by the All-Star break the Mets will need to go 8-1, a daunting task considering how the Mets play on a nightly basis. Some nights the Mets execute offensively and the starting pitching is electric and the Mets look like an elite team. However, more often than not the Mets execute one thing well and implode everywhere else.

I am going to do a quick rundown of how the Mets have faired in different areas of their roster

The Good

The Mets have actually had some really great performers this season as it seems as if a young core of Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto could be a big part of a legitimate lineup for years to come.

McNeil is hitting .351 and has proven to be an elite contact hitter like a young Ichiro Suzuki. Pete Alonso is an all-around dangerous hitter who has mashed 27 home runs, a Mets rookie record, driven in 61 runs, and is hitting .279. Conforto missed about seven games this season due to injury but has been great. He is only hitting .260 but has 16 home runs, 41 RBI’s and OPS of .882. These three can lead an offense for years to come.

Dom Smith has finally broken out and is showing us all why he was a first round draft pick, but unfortunately, the Mets don’t have a position for him to play every day because Alonso has a strong hold on first base, Smith’s natural position. He has been playing left field semi-regularly this month just to get in the lineup, which is great for the Mets lineup but not a long-term answer for him or the Mets. Nonetheless, he is hitting .339 with seven home runs and 13 RBI’s in just 109 at-bats.

J.D. Davis was acquired via trade from the Astros in the offseason and along with Dom Smith has been a great bench piece for the Mets, providing power and a solid bat good enough to start semi-regularly. he is hitting .267 with eight home runs and 22 RBI’s.

Wilson Ramos has been great offensively providing a solid bat at a position where the Mets haven’t had production in over a decade. His defense has been bad, but a .780 OPS from a catcher will make you look the other way on that fact. Todd Frazier has been hitting like he’s 28 again. He’s hitting .258 with nine home runs and 30 RBI’s in just 181 at-bats.

The Mediocre

The starting rotation has not been elite as was expected. Jacob deGrom has not been the dominant force that he was last year, as was expected, but he still has been an ace. His 3.25 ERA is the 18th best in baseball and with the trend he has been on his past seven starts — allowing two runs or less — he will likely get that ERA below 3.00. Syndergaard, Wheeler, and Matz have all been great at times and terrible at others, which is why they all have ERA’s 4.55 or higher.

Jason Vargas has actually been amazing for the majority of this season. He has a 3.66 ERA and has actually been able to go deeper into games on a consistent basis this season. The only reason I didn’t put Vargas in the category of good performers is because of how the unit of starting pitchers has performed.

Amed Rosario has been solid at the plate but has not broken out like I had thought he would. He has a .258 batting average with nine home runs and 40 RBI’s, solid overall numbers, but his fielding has been atrocious.

He has been so bad defensively this year that the team is thinking about moving him to center field, which could be a fix as the Mets don’t have a long-term solution at that position. However, that is a discussion for another day. Rosario needs to improve at the plate if he wants to join the offensive core that I mentioned above.

The Bad

The Mets have been pretty lucky with the injury bug as a whole, however, Brandon Nimmo has missed most of the season with a bulging disk in his neck and it was definitely affecting his output while he was on the field. He will have to prove himself again upon his return if he wants to rejoin the young core of the future. through 43 games he was hitting just .200 with only three home runs, poor numbers to say the least.

Jed Lowrie, at the age of 35, was signed to a two year 21 million dollar contract this past winter and has not touched the field yet.  He was supposed to be a big part of this team and it remains to be seen if he will be a part of the 2019 Mets at all.

Robinson Cano has been a huge disappointment this season, he has not been the .300 hitter he has been his entire career and has been on the injured list twice this season due to quad injuries. Right now he is hitting .223 with just four home runs and 17 RBI’s in 55 games, an underwhelming stat line for a guy the Mets traded a top prospect for, a prospect that seems like he could be a perennial All-Star when he gets to the big leagues.

The biggest issue for the Mets is their bullpen. The Mets made a few moves this offseason to fix a bullpen that was bottom five in the league in 2017 and 2018. It seemed as if Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, and Edwin Diaz would be a strong mix for the back end of the bullpen, but that simply has not worked.

Jeurys Familia was arguably the best closer in baseball from 2015-2016 but took a step back in 2017 when a shoulder injury cost him essentially the entire season. In 2018 he was no longer elite, but was clearly someone that could be trusted in late innings of close games. This season, however, he looks like he doesn’t know how to pitch in any situation whatsoever and was recently placed on the injured list.

Justin Wilson has spent 95% of the season on the injured list, Robert Gsellman has been up and down, and Edwin Diaz, who saved 57 games last season and had a 1.96 ERA has been average at best this season. The only trustworthy reliever the Mets have is Seth Lugo, but he has shoulder issues that make him unable to pitch on back-to-back days.

In June the Mets bullpen has an ERA above 7.00 and is really the main reason the Mets aren’t in the playoff hunt.

According to ESPN, the Mets have 18 blown saves, the most in baseball, and have converted 50% of save opportunities, also the worst in baseball. If the Mets were league average at closing out games (67%) they would have six more wins and their record would be 43-38 and they would be the number one Wild Card team.

The final bad part of this team is the manager, Mickey Callaway. Callaway is simply not cut out for the job, at least in New York. He constantly makes bad in-game decisions with his pitching staff, pulling starters too early and not using relievers in the right situation on a nightly basis.

To be fair, when your bullpen performs as bad as the Mets bullpen has even the right decision will backfire, as it has a few times. However, more often than not it seems as if Callaway doesn’t have a feel for the game. He even continues to bat Cano behind Alonso, the best hitter in the lineup, who needs legitimate protection if he is going to continue to get pitches to hit.

It was a nice try by the Mets to bring in a “pitching guru” to lead a team built on pitching, but the bottom line is he is not a guru of managing a team.

If the Mets are going to turn this season around it might be necessary to put a new person in charge of this squad. The team has a lot of talent and if the bullpen turns it around, a playoff run could occur.

June 27, 2019

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