Mets are in a mess, but they’re not fatally flawed
When the Mets started the season 13-3, history and logic told us they would come back to earth. Their fall to earth has occurred, and it’s been far more bumpy than most expected.
Just before their 7-12 slide and during it, the Mets have lost the following players to injury:
David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, Jerry Blevins, Rafael Montero, Dillon Gee, and Buddy Carlyle. The team is also still without Vic Black and Bobby Parnell, who have both gone past their estimated return dates.
During their last three losses, the Mets were also without center fielder Juan Lagares, who is expected to return on Friday night, and have played a messy brand of baseball that needs to be corrected.
To go along with the injuries the Mets are dealing with, the players they’ve called up to replace Wright and d’Arnaud in the lineup (Eric Campbell first, then Dilson Herrera with Daniel Murphy shifting to third, and Kevin Plawecki) have been underwhelming.
The absensce of Wright and d’Arnaud (and the brief absence of Lagares) has been compounded by Curtis Granderson not hitting for power and Michael Cuddyer not hitting much at all.
When you add to that the fact that the Mets’ bench has been almost unfathomably bad in terms of offensive production – Kirk Nieuwnenhuis is hitting 088/.139/.147, John Mayberry, Jr. is hitting .129/.194/.273, and Ruben Tejada is hitting .222/.333/.306 – the result is the team-wide offensive slump that has been the main culprit of the team’s recent 7-12 stretch.
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Also hurting the team are the recent injuries to Blevins and Carlyle and the poor bullpen management Terry Collins has displayed while missing some of his familiar options. The injuries to Montero and Gee, while important, aren’t having a direct negative impact on the team, since Noah Syndergaard has stepped into that rotation spot.
The bottom line is that lots of what ails the Mets will be corrected simply by the return of d’Arnaud and Wright, two of their three best hitters. With d’Arnaud likely about a week away from a return and Wright perhaps not far behind, the offense will again be whole.
Another thing that will help is Granderson displaying more power and Cuddyer breaking out of his slump. Cuddyer, who is currently hitting .233/.298/.358 and hasn’t hit a home run in weeks, is simply too good a hitter to remain at this level of production.
Then there’s the bullpen.
Having lost Blevins and Carlyle and still without Black and Parnell, the pen has become a major concern. While Black is still regaining his velocity, both he and Black will begin rehab assignments with Triple-A Las Vegas this weekend. Black may arrive first, likely resulting in Jack Leathersich returning to Vegas. Once Parnell arrives, the club might cut Sean Gilmartin loose.
Through all of the problems the Mets have experienced recently, the starting pitching – anchored by Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, and Noah Syndergaard, remains the backbone of this team, and Steven Matz is available as a reinforcement is he’s deemed to be needed.
The Mets will be fine.
It will take Wright and d’Arnaud returning, Cuddyer awaking from his offensive slumber, the bullpen getting reinforcements, and perhaps some necessary changes being made on the bench.
Before the aforementioned happens, the Mets might continue to go through a tough period, but they’ll simply need to rise to the occasion and keep their heads above water. I’m confident they’ll do just that, beginning on Friday night against the Brewers at Citi Field.