Posted by Thomas Brennan at 8:00 AM
After starting the season 7-3, the Mets have gone a miserable 9-20 to fall to 16-23. And that 9-20 stretch incredibly included a stretch where they won 8 of 11!!
They have scored 5 runs per game, which would normally get the Mets to 23-16, not vice versa.
Of course, the 5 runs per game has been achieved despite poor early season performances from Reyes and Grandy, although both are recently showing signs of life. And without Cespedes, d'Arnaud, Duda, and now Cabrera for major stretches of time. Pretty remarkable run production from that perspective.
The Mets have nonetheless scored 38 runs less than the Division-leading Nationals, who are averaging a surreal 6 runs per game. You know, Big Red Machine stuff.
In the pitching department, the exuberant optimism of mid February, about a team that could have almost a legendary staff, has been far more shocking in its disintegration than anything I can remember. The team's 5.13 ERA is dead last in baseball, with the next-to-last Phillies far better at 4.82.
Serious injuries to Steve Matz and Seth Lugo thinned pitching depth before even starting the season, raising nerves. Could the pitching stay strong until the two got back from their boo-boos?
Clearly, no. The indispensable Thor sustained a serious injury measured in months, not weeks, on the DL. Harvey has been very disappointing, Jake has not achieved his usual standard of excellence, and starter fill-ins Montero, Wilk, and Milone have been miserable. Gsellman, so good late last year, with a 2.42 ERA, has more than struggled to a stratospheric 7.12 ERA so far in 2017.
Losing Familia for, most likely, the rest of the season, was an earthquake for an already overworked bullpen. We are back to the point where, if the bullpen has to go several innings, which they do daily since starters remarkably never are able to record outs into the 7th inning, you feel as a fan that all is lost.
Bright notes have been Zach Wheeler's laudable comeback and Paul Sewald's very fine relief pitching, which has made the pen a little less awful.
Minor league-wise, many call for IF Amed Rosario to be called up, but scoring runs has not been the problem, the pitching is.
Are there REAL minor league pitching alternatives? No.
Kevin McGowan has been decent in AAA in relief, but not long and strong enough to make me think he is an answer.
Al Baldonado just got to AAA, so it feels like calling him up would be rushing him. Neither Kevin nor Al, to me, feel like better alternatives than just-signed marginal pen arm Neil Ramirez. No other minor league pitchers (starters or relievers) are ready and able.
If all goes well, over the next 2-3 weeks, the walking wounded (Matz, Lugo, Cespedes, d'Arnaud and Cabrera) should all be back.
But will the plummeting Mets be so far gone by then that the season will be effectively over? Well, they will have to play the games one at a time to find out.
Meanwhile, the crosstown Yankees dazzle and amaze, so we are losing the town again. Yankee Swagger is back, and so is Mets Stagger.
With the Wild Card further and further away, this could be a mighty long season with major changes ahead.
Encouraging news: Matz and Lugo pitched very well in 3 inning stints in St Lucie, and Travis d'Arnaud went 2 for 4 catching for St Lucie. Also, Smoker pitched well in AAA, as did Kevin McGowan, so there are some upcoming reinforcements and call-up options. Oh, and Rosario homered and tripled last night, too.