The season is one week old and, contrary to what Stewie Griffin might say, the Mets season is far from over. The Mets will enter their home opener later today with a 3-3 record, taking the first series of the year against the Florida Marlins before dropping two out of three to the Philadelphia Phillies. Before R.A. Dickey takes the mound and starts throwing knuckleballs, here are the positives and negatives from the Amazins’ season opening road trip.
Road Warriors: When you think about it, 3-3 isnt’ that bad. Remember, this is a team that waited until mid June of last year to win a series on the road (Baltimore), and until mid-August to win one against a National League team (Pittsburgh). This season, the Mets took the first road series of the year. If the Amazins want to contend, they’re going to need to improve upon their 32-49 road record from last season, but in reality, they only need to play .500 ball away from Citi Field. Last year, the Mets went 47-34 at home, a .580 winning percentage. Instead, say the Mets won two-thirds of their home games, which would equate to a 54-27 record at Citi. If the Mets then won half of their road games, they’d have accumulated 95 wins and probably earn a playoff birth. Granted, it will be difficult to achieve such a high winning percentage at home, but if the Mets win around 50 or more games at Citi, playing .500 ball on the road would keep them in the playoff hunt.
These Guys Can Hit: Facing some stiff pitching competition this past week, the Mets scored 31 runs over their first six games, amounting to just over five runs per game. If you take away the games played against Josh Johnson and Roy Halladay, arguably the top two pitchers in the National League, then the Mets averaged 7.25 runs per game. Last season, the Mets scored just over four runs per game. It’s early, but so far the Mets have proven their ability to collect hits in bunches, put together big innings, and rally. When Jason Bay returns in a week or so, the offense should only improve.
If You Can’t Beat Him…: Sign him! Willie Harris had a great first week in a Mets uniform, going six for seventeen with a homer, four runs batted in, two walks and a stolen base. His playing time will decrease significantly once Bay returns, but he’s a great guy to have on the bench. Also, odds are he won’t provide any more heartbreaking moments.
Little Pelf: As I recently wrote, Pelfrey needs to pitch better. In the 6.1 innings he’s pitched so far, Pelfrey has allowed a whopping 11 earned runs on 12 hits and five walks while striking out three, with six of those hits going for extra bases. In short, he is getting hit hard and looks lost on the mound. He’ll pitch at home for the first time in his next start, where Mike was 10-3 with a 2.83 ERA and 1.274 WHIP in 2010. He can and should improve.
Nothing To Fear: It’s early, but Blaine Boyer has not impressed in his first three appearances. After allowing one hit in two-thirds of an inning and an inherited runner to score in the Opening Day loss, Boyer filled in as closer in the second game of the year and Francisco Rodriguez blew the save in the ninth. Although he got the job done, Boyer allowed one run on two hits before recording the final out with the tying run at the plate. In his next appearance this past Wednesday, Boyer took the mound right after the Mets rallied from seven runs down to tie the game against the Phillies. After retiring the first two batters, Shane Victorino reached on a check swing double, leading to two Philly runs. Boyer then surrendered a home run to Ryan Howard the next inning and the Mets were toast, prompting Boyer shaved his beard following the poor performance, With Jason Isringhausen readying himself, Boyer’s roster spot might be in jeopardy.
All Wright?: Wright’s season has already begun in interesting fashion. He’s accumulated nine hits in twenty-six at bats with one homer and five runs batted in and at times looked like the David of old. However, he’s also struck out eight times, some of which have occurred in clutch situations. In the opening game against the Phillies, he struc kout swinging with runners on second and third and nobody out in the top of the first against Cole Hamels (although he’d later make up for it with a bases loaded two run single in the third). During Wednesday’s game, he struck out looking in the first with Jose Reyes on third and one out (again, he came through later with an RBI single). Yesterday, he came up in the third with the bases loaded and one out against Halladay and also went down swinging. Granted, he’s not going to succeed every time, but there are certain situations where you expect the leader of your team to come through. That being said, Wright has still gotten off to a good start with the bat and hopefully he can keep it up.
Niese Up & Down: Already, Niese has pitched very well this season and struggled, looking both dominant and very hittable. In his first start against the Marlins, Niese allowed two runs in the first inning before settling down to retire eleven batters in a row while not allowing another run and pitching seven innings. Philadelphia was the opposite story, where Niese got off to a fast start, striking out four of the first six batters before yielding six runs over the next two innings. The Mets will look for more consistency from him, but I still think Niese will improve as a pitcher, leading to more successful outings.
Mixed Bag: So far, the low risk, high reward signings that Sandy Alderson brought in have yielded mixed results. Chris Young pitched well in his first start, and the aforementioned Harris has done a fine job as well. Brad Emaus has been decent as he adjusts to big league pitching but has been surprisingly solid so far in the field. Pedro Beato has shown promise while Taylor Buchholz, Tim Byrdak and D.J. Carrasco have been up and down. As I stated, Boyer could be on the way out when Izzy is ready. There’s still plenty of time for the majority if these signings to payoff, and I’m looking forward to Chris Capuano’s first start this weekend.