1 major problem holding the Mets back

New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds
New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

The New York Mets and their fans started this season having aspirations of a World Series run, with a $300 million payroll and stars all across the roster. Just a few weeks in and the team is in a freefall, mired in a six game losing streak and just fighting to get back above .500.

There is plenty of blame to go around, with most of the lineup slumping and a staff ERA of 4.82. The pieces have yet to come together for this team, with manager Buck Showalter recently saying they just simply need to play better. However, there are some key problems that are hurting the Mets more than others. Most importantly, the team cannot get a starter to go deep into a game.

The Mets starting pitchers inability to get past the 5th inning is holding this team back.

To put it simply, the Mets have been getting killed by their lack of production from starting pitchers. Mets starters have logged 173.2 innings of work through 36 games this season, good for third worst in the entire MLB. That's an average of just under five innings per start, which is horrible for a starting rotation worth over $100 million.

It's easy to blame injuries for this, with Justin Verlander missing extended time and Max Scherzer not being 100%. However, the Mets had to anticipate this injury risk when they signed two nearly 40 year old pitchers, and the other starters haven't stepped up. Control issues have doomed Scherzer and Kodai Senga in their starts, and the rest of the rotation owns an ERA of 4.30 or above that knock them out of starts early as well.

The biggest victim in the lack of starting pitching has far and away been the bullpen. Understaffed to begin with following the Edwin Diaz injury, the Mets bullpen simply isn't deep enough to keep getting thrown out in the 5th and 6th innings. Pitchers such as Tommy Hunter and Jimmy Yacoabonis are frequently getting told to eat up some innings, and the results have often been disastrous.

The Mets remain optimistic that when finally healthy, their starting rotation will be able to get back into form and make them contenders again. In the meantime, fans will have to continue to suffer through early departures and bullpen overuse that may put the team in a hole they won't be able to climb out of.