More than any of the other four major sports, the Major League Baseball season is a marathon. Just because your team is out of it on Memorial Day, doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to pack up and prepare for next season.
Looking at the standings on June 10, the New York Mets find themselves seven games under .500, 11.5 games out of first place in the NL East. How can this be for a team that was predicted to win at least 90 games and win the NL East in some preseason publications?
Many reasons. Lets start with injuries. Lost for most of the season so far has been their best offensive player (Yoenis Cespedes – only 19 GP), best starting pitcher (Noah Syndergaard – 5 GS) and closer (Jeurys Familia – only 11 GP). While Cespedes should be back today, Syndergaard and Familia will be out until at least August.
Next is their pristine starting pitching. Heading into today (June 10) the Mets starters ERA of 4.99 ranks 27th in the majors. Their starters have logged the 3rd fewest innings of any team. Only 25 times in the Mets 58 games this season have their starters gone 6 or more innings. That number looks even worse after May 1, as only 12 times since then have starters gone 6 or more innings.
Since their starters have done so poorly, their bullpen has been overused and exposed. Their 4.89 bullpen ERA ranks 27th in the majors and their 13 blown saves is the most in the majors.
Mets Pitching Ranks – 2017 Season
Starting ERA 4.99 27th
Starters IP 314.0 28th
Overall ERA 4.95 T-Last
Bullpen ERA 4.89 27th
Blown Saves 13 Last
The Mets are winless in games they score 2 runs or less (0-13), while losing four games when they scored at least seven runs. We haven’t even mentioned the offense yet, where of the regulars, only Michael Conforto is hitting over .270 (and he is hitting just .173 in his last 14 games).
How did this team get so bad? What can the Mets do from here to clean this mess up and make the rest of the season worthwhile to fans in Flushing? Here are a few ideas.
KEEP TERRY COLLINS
Early on this season Terry Collins passed Davey Johnson for the most career games managed in Mets history. Despite Collins many attempts to ignite a fire under his team, his voice has grown tired to this bunch. At 68 Collins doesn’t need this aggravation anymore. However, I still think, looking at the lack of possible candidates to replace him, that he needs to stay. If there was a Wally Backman ready to step in, I would say go ahead. However, Backman is now in Mexico as a bench coach for Pericos de Puebla of the Mexican Baseball League.
CLEAN UP THE LINEUP
Looking at the everyday ball players, one can get bored when going over the Mets boxscores. Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes have been awful all season. Time for them to take a seat. If the Mets can get something for either Cabrera or Granderson, I say do it, but they unlikely would be able to get much.
The future at SS is waiting in Las Vegas and tearing up the league. Amed Rosario is hitting .339 and leads the organization in hits (84), RBI (43) and is second in slugging percentage (.500). The Super 2 cutoff date has most likely passed (judging from past dates). Stop wasting time and give the Mets fans the player they have been hearing about for the last few years. His input in the leadoff spot should ignite some life into a very old, boring lineup.
Having a consistent lineup with Cespedes, Conforto and Bruce in the OF (with Lagares filling in defensively late) along with deciding how to consistently get Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera at bats (Rivera could platoon at first with Lucas Duda) should give the Mets more of a spark.
REPLACE THE BULLPEN
Why on earth do Mets fans still have to see Fernando Salas and Addison Reed taking turns giving away games? Reed had his value as a setup man, but his season is spiraling out of control as a closer. He already has been overused and if he stays on the staff, needs a long rest.
I suggest Salas be released. As for Reed, if the Mets can shop him around to a contender who needs another arm, then so be it, but I think his time closing out games for the Mets should be re-examined.
Going from there, that creates some room for the Mets to give some minor leaguers with live arms a chance to change the chemistry in the bullpen. Since it’s really hard to gauge a pitchers worth in Las Vegas, I prefer to look at each pitchers overall minor league records to determine if they deserve a shot in the majors. Alberto Baldonado and Tim Petersen are both live arms who can strike people out and potentially close games. Rotoprofessor.com identified Baldonado as a “sleeper” candidate for a major league closing job a few weeks back (Closers of the Future) , while Petersen has consistently posted excellent strikeout to walk totals in his minor league career (4.41 SO/BB in his 157 minor league games).
LET THE STARTING STAFF DEVELOP
Now that Steven Matz and Seth Lugo are back and ready to pitch, the Mets finally have some options to hold over people’s heads. While Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom aren’t going anywhere in the rotation, now they have a reason to look over their shoulder if they have a hard time getting back to success.
Zack Wheeler has been the Mets most consistent starter over the last 2 months, but his innings limit (somewhere around 125) will be approaching before you know it, so this also gives him a chance to miss a start and not be done by mid-July. This also puts added pressure on Robert Gsellman, who has already stepped up his game in the last few starts.
Now its open season again for the starters, just like spring training. Since the Mets starters have been awful this season so far, Collins has the option of sitting someone who doesn’t get his act together and can’t afford to let anyone work their way out of a slump with consistent poor outings. If you pitch poorly over a 3-4 start period, you either miss a start or go the bullpen. Hopefully this can get the Mets starters back to being what they were projected to be when the season started.