It’s one week into the Major League Baseball season and although it is still early, there is a theme or two for each team that will stick with them through the course of the season. Some cities are elated with their starts (Baltimore and Cincinnati are two such examples) while others are pretty close to panicking (Arizona and Minnesota come to mind). With the New York Mets, it’s safe to say that while we haven’t revisited Panic City yet, fans are starting to get pretty annoyed with the team’s lackluster play. Here are three things we have learned about the Amazins as they get ready to embark on their first extended road trip.
1-The offense is still suspect.
For six glorious weeks in 2015, the Mets were one of the best offenses in the game. The acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes and the returns of David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud lit a fire under the bats that carried them all the way to the World Series. That group seems to be a mirage. Granted, with their pitching, the offense doesn’t need to be the 1995 Cleveland Indians in order for the team to win. However, they can’t be as putrid as the club that was under .500 for three months last year. They need to find a happy medium.
Wright is not hitting with power and with his back condition, he never will again. The difference between Curtis Granderson this year and last year is that in 2015 he still got on base while not hitting a lick. This season, he is doing neither. Cespedes is starting to sting the ball a little which is a great sign. Though Daniel Murphy is having a blast in Washington, Neil Walker leads the team in RBI’s despite only having five hits. If New York can finish in the top half of the league in runs scored, they should be fine. However, the lineup is a cause for concern at the moment. Seven runs in over the last four games is all you need to know.
2-The bullpen needs an upgrade.
The Mets’ bullpen is solid but unspectacular. Jeurys Familia proved to be outstanding in the ninth inning a year ago and sometimes was asked to get a five or six out save. However, there isn’t a guy leading up to him that makes you feel 100% comfortable. Addison Reed has had closing experience and Antonio Bastardo has been solid at times over the course of his career but neither man has that “wow” factor that other setup men like Kelvin Herrera or Dellin Betances possesses.
It would be nice if a guy emerged that manager Terry Collins can trust consistently in the eighth inning. That pitcher is probably not on the roster. Look for the team to pick up someone at the deadline and beyond much like they did with Reed and Tyler Clippard in 2015. If the offense continues to be an enigma, New York will need to win a lot of low-scoring games. Having a rock-steady bullpen will ensure the Mets come out more often than not.
3-The games with the starting pitchers will continue.
How is it that Steven Matz had a nearly two week layoff between the end of Spring Training and his first regular season start? It is that kind of management with the starting rotation that has Mets’ fans frustrated and rightfully so. You know at some point Noah Syndergaard is going to have his turn in the rotation skipped because of an innings limit. With Jacob deGrom hurting (or not) will that give them cover to have him skipped a time or two during the season?
I can’t imagine that any of the Met starting pitchers are happy with this kind of disruption. Matt Harvey has said in the past that he hates extra rest. Do you think Syndergaard will be happy when his turn comes and goes without him starting? The Mets are being too cautious with their young arms. I know they feel what they are doing is protecting their investments. Perhaps, they know better than us. However, why do I get the feeling this abundance of caution is going to backfire?