A major Mets team weakness they’ve been able to overcome with a strength

The Mets have been able to overcome their high walk rates by being the best in the league somewhere else.
Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets
Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets / Mike Stobe/GettyImages

A West Coast trip isn’t always the most welcomed event for anyone other than the New York Mets fan living in California. The time change itself can throw players off for a day. The desire to get back home at the end of a trip can give players a case of “senioritis” where they’re just ready to move onto the next phase.

As well as the Mets have been playing on most days and altogether since their 0-5 start, they do have a major weakness only masked by a strength. The Mets pitching staff has been better than predicted. The starting staff’s ability to prevent runs is among the best in baseball. The bullpen, outside of a small number of performances, has been even better.

Specific to the pitching staff, mostly from the starters, are the number of walks they’re allowing. Their 96 walks is the third-highest in MLB and second to only the Miami Marlins in the National League. Fortunately, for all of the free passes they’ve given up, Mets pitchers have also avoided home runs. The 12 they have given up are tied for the fewest with the Washington Nationals.

Mets pitchers are flirting with disaster with all of their walks allowed

Given the choice between three walks in an inning or a home run, the choice is easy. A home run is worth much more than the walk, but what happens when those long balls end up timed better? The Mets have escaped those damaging blows. In spite of all of those ball four calls against the pitchers, it hasn’t really hurt them all that badly.

In Sunday’s game, we saw the exception. A 10-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers where they had only 9 hits is telling of how much Mets pitchers likely missed the strike zone. A day after the Mets won but did so with a ton of walks issued, the trend continued with 7 more bases on balls in 8 innings including 4 from starter Adrian Houser.

Both home runs for the Dodgers came shortly after a Mets pitcher walked a batter. Shohei Ohtani and then Andy Pages later on each went deep with a runner on base who was only there because of a ball four. This wasn’t the only reason why the Mets got hammered. Houser threw batting practice in the fifth before he was mercilessly removed.

The high walk rate has been contagious throughout the staff. Jose Quintana as 3.9 walks per 9 is the lowest. From the bullpen, Drew Smith and Jake Diekman are seemingly pitching well but own atrocious walk rates of 7 and 6.4 per 9 respectively. Only Adam Ottavino seems to have found his control. He has yet to offer up a free pass all year.

So far, the strategy has worked. The 1.32 WHIP ranks 22nd in baseball after Sunday which you wouldn't expect from a staff also owning the 7th best ERA at 3.48.

How long can this continue and the Mets still remain successful?

For now, our fingers are off the panic button. A lineup like the Dodgers looks for walks and it’s in a series like that we should be more than thankful to leave with two wins.