Posted by Ernest Dove at 10:00 AM
Well, after an Amazin run of 11 straight victories, including all 10 on their initial homestand of the season, the Mets found themselves struggling in almost all aspects of the game on their most recent road trip to the Bronx and then Miami. It appeared that the 2014 Mets had returned, full of mental errors, pitching mistakes and untimely hitting. During the 4 losses on the trip, the Mets seemed to rekindle that not so electric energy and enthusiasm. Even with Murphy starting to hit, he has seemed to regress in all phases of his game, both with defense and his overall decision making.
Wilmer Flores has had a few more errors during this stretch, has appeared to botch a couple of double play opportunities, and has gone a few games without that all important timely hit the youngster has started to become known for. Add that to the questions swirling around social media about the in game decision making by the coaching staff, and it has all led to frustration and all the keyboard assassins to return to their Mets bashing ways. But is this the real Mets once again, or are still different, and on the upswing?
Perhaps I'm off by a game or two, but I believe the 2015 Mets actually have 8 come from behind wins already during this first month. Some of which occurred with the team going hitless into the 3rd, 4th and even 5th innings during those eventual wins. Also of note, regarding the bullpen, it was obviously unrealistic to expect the team, and its 17+ inning scoreless streak, to sustain its perfection. Especially with the same relievers seeming to be called upon every night to pitch. Yes, its true that Terry Collins and his staff are paid to do whatever it takes to win ballgames. However, you simply can't deny that, despite all the injuries, the fact remains that Gilmartin, Goeddel and Robles are now major league pitchers on the 25 man roster. And, as such, they are needed to be called upon to help preserve, maintain leads or keep the game close. The Mets simply can't rely on the Torres boys, Buddy and Familia to pitch every night to get wins.
But again, back to the point at hand. Is the team with the 11 game winning streak still legit? I say yes. Teams around the league are sustaining injuries right now. The Nats, everyone's sexy pick to run away with the division and go to the world series are struggling to start the season. They have their own injuries with pitching and hitting, and a bit of a mess at shortstop right now with a very talented player.
But there the Mets stand, still with one of the best records in baseball, and still with a multi-game lead in the division. The Mets, like many other teams, are looking to get healthy. However, again not every team has started 15-7 (as of Thursday afternoon) while they await the returns of core players.
Perhaps one thing is being brought to light here. Perhaps the immediate excitement over Plawecki was a bit premature. If the short 6 game trip proved anything, its that the team needs its number 1 starting catcher back. Plawecki definitely looks pretty solid at the plate at times, but he is a rookie and is quickly reverting back to the growing pains that are expected. And our favorite do-it-all utility man Soup Campbell was not going to score 160 runs and hit continuous sac flies with runners on forever. The team needs health, but they don't need outright panic from their fans.
Bartolo Colon was not going to finish the season undefeated (newsflash, Harvey won't either). But this team, regardless of the results of yet another possible serious injury with Montero's shoulder, have the arms to lead the playoff chase. And as for the hitting, We can't necessarily jump all over TC for his decision to pretty much bench everybody for a game against the marlins. Kinda like my thoughts on the bullpen, the bench players are major leaguers and deserve to play in games. Perhaps not all at the same time, but its April, and it is what is. 13 games in 13 days is not easy, and hope your pitching comes through with less regulars in the lineup.
The Mets are still a better team then they have been in years. The fire is there. The energy is there. The talent is there. If its natural for player to get injured, then it is also natural for many of those players to get healthy. And again, its not August, so these core players Mets are waiting on can all be back and in shape by summer time.
What's important is that Mets fans don't give up hope. Another simple fact is that the Mets will not finish the season undefeated at Citi Field. And don't simply expect or hope for a sweep of the Nats this week in order to somehow prove that they belong in the playoff chase. The Mets need to do what all teams do in these situation, which is to ride the highs, and work on damage control to minimize the lows. If the Mets go on to split the series with Nats, they will be in excellent shape as they then continue into early May. David Wright is expected to be back during the month. d'Arnaud will be checked out during the month for possible return to baseball activities and at least one of Black or Parnell may get some kind of resolution during this month about their status and return.
Lastly, its hard to get too worried and sustain a doom and gloom attitude with a team playing over .500 ball for a month. The decisions to immediately start Plawecki every day, and even make decision to call up Robles rather then just pick a random journeyman in AAA or at home right now shows me that this years team is different. Bring on May, and continue to excitement. It should be a fun ride into October.