4 players to blame for the Mets falling behind the Braves in the NL East

New York Mets v Chicago Cubs
New York Mets v Chicago Cubs / Quinn Harris/GettyImages
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3. Adam Ottavino has not been nearly as sharp for the New York Mets in 2023 as he was in 2022.

The Mets struck gold last season when they brought in Adam Ottavino to be their setup man, as he was one of the most effective late inning relievers in baseball. Ottavino posted a 2.06 ERA in 65.2 innings last year, making the bridge to Edwin Diaz look easy.

This year, it has been a different story for Ottavino, who re-signed with the team for what was essentially a $3 million pay raise. His ERA has more than doubled to 4.58, and much of it is because his other stats from last year have been worse. Walks, home runs, and batting average against are all up, while strikeouts are down.

Additionally, his velocities on three of his four pitches (his sinker, changeup, and slider) are all down by about 1 mph each, and his sweeper is not breaking as hard horizontally as it was last season.

But with the Edwin Diaz injury, Ottavino's performance has gone much more into the microscope because of how critical he is to the Mets success.

The Mets probably felt the loss of Diaz in that bullpen more in the opener of the Tigers series at the start of the month on May 3, where Ottavino entered the game with a lead in the eighth inning and then blew it, with the big blow being hitting Javier Baez on a 1-2 pitch on a sinker that didn't sink enough, leading to an opportunity for Detroit to win that game.

That was the one loss the Mets had when leading after seven innings so far this season, and if there was any loss the Mets would have loved to have back, that was the game, because it was the first of 13 straight games against teams with sub-.500 records, a stretch the Mets went an unacceptable 4-9 in, and the ebb and flow of this team didn't sit well with fans during that brutal sequence.

And remember, it was the Mets' inability to beat up on the second division opponents that cost them last year, and it could cost them again this year.