A quick look at the NL East standings at the end of April 27 sees the New York Mets in last place with a record of 8-13. Yes, this is the same Mets team that once sat at 7-3 just two weeks ago, despite not having their closer Jeurys Familia for the first 15 games.
However, since then the same circumstances that cost them a division title in 2016, have surfaced to turn this into an April that could essentially end their season by May 1 if they are swept by that Nationals this weekend.
After suffering another lifeless, embarrassing loss to the Atlanta Braves, the Mets now sit 7.5 games behind the first place Washington Nationals where they head next for a weekend series. If this team doesn’t wake up from its doldrums this weekend, they could find themselves trailing by double-digits before May flowers arise.
If things weren’t bad enough after today’s 7-5 loss which concluded a 1-7 home stand, the news before and during the game made it much worse. The Mets most consistent starter and Cy Young hopeful Noah Syndergaard was scratched before the game with a “tired arm”. Adding fuel to the fire, MVP hopeful Yoenis Cespedes, was lost for an indefinite amount of time after pulling his hamstring running out a double in the 4th inning.
Such has been the situation for the Mets much of the last few seasons. Injuries on top of injuries. Cespedes and Syndergaard joined others such as Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Stephen Matz, Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, Asdrubral Cabrera, Seth Lugo and David Wright who have already missed time this season due to injuries.
What makes this epidemic so frustrating to fans is that many times the Mets will play shorthanded with the hope that lingering injuries will heal over the course of 3-4 days. That was the case this past weekend in a very important series against the Nationals at home. In the Friday night opener, the Mets had to pinch hit Zack Wheeler and use Robert Gsellman as a pinch-runner, cause they only had one healthy player on the bench to use.
Ray Ramirez has been the Mets trainer since 2004. Every year it seems the Mets lose countless players to the same types of injuries, mainly groin/hamstring pulls or elbow/biceps/shoulder tendinitis. Why? You would think by now that he and his staff would be experts in how to avoid those injuries. Well, not the Mets.
Two other issues have made this April a utter disaster, and they are the bullpen and the offense. Three times so far this season the Mets have blown leads they held in the 5th inning or later. Three other times they have lost games in extra-innings or in walkoff fashion. Only the Brewers have more bullpen losses than the Mets 6.
Regardless of the starters the Mets have, they failed to address their bullpen depth successfully in the offseason. Many quality relievers were available, along with many other pitchers that have had success who were looking to bounce back. If major league bullpens tell us anything, its that relievers success varies from season to season.
Offensive consistency is another albatross for this team. Last season the Mets finished with the worst BA in the majors with RISP (.225). If they didn’t hit HR, they didn’t score. For the season, the Mets scored over 51.1 percent of their runs off of HR, which was one of the highest percentages since Elias started tracking that stat back in 1962. So far through 21 games in 2017, the Mets have scored 47 percent of their runs that way, scoring 41 of their 86 runs via the HR.
The Mets simply do not have rallies. They don’t get enough hits to do that, or walk enough. Entering today, the Mets .208 BA was the worst in the NL (2nd worst to Kansas City) and their .286 on base percentage is also the worst in the NL. During this stretch where the Mets have lost 10 of 11 games, they have hit just .184 as a team, averaging just 3 runs a game. They also have not HELD a lead in a game since defeating the Phillies 5-4 on April 19, a streak that has stretched to 56 innings.
So where do the Mets go from here? In the minors their top 2 offensive prospects, Amed Rosario (.397 BA, 29 H in 19 games) and Dominic Smith (.342 BA, 14 RBI in 20 games) have dominated so far. Look for either one or both of them to be called to the big leagues soon, especially with Cespedes going down. The Mets also have enough mid level prospects available to upgrade their bullpen and bench if need be.
Despite the calendar not saying May yet, the Mets season is facing crisis mode. If they don’t reverse their fortunes starting this weekend in Washington, 2017 could be a very long season for Mets fans.