The New York Mets came into the 2017 season with an impressive arsenal of pitchers. There was no way they weren’t going to contend with a staff that consisted of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey and closer Jeurys Familia.
The had both strength and depth as Zack Wheeler (Tommy John surgery) was returning after a two-year absence and the emergence of Seth Lugo and Robbert Gsellman gave them seven solid starters. In the bullpen, Addison Reed had developed into a reliable set-up man and several other arms – Hansel Robles, Josh Edgin, Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins – were all poised to prop up Familia, who had 51 saves in 2016.
That was the plan. As we know, the best laid plans can go awry quickly. Injuries to Syndergaard, Matz, Familia and Lugo have cut into that strength and depth and the remaining pitchers have been falling down on the job.
Harvey has been getting hit hard. He is no longer fooling batters regularly and is being victimized by the long ball. Gsellman has been absolutely horrible with just one quality start in seven outings. His stats warrant an immediate demotion (7.07 ERA, 1.79 WHIP). Wheeler is still getting his sea legs back. He’s pitched respectably (2-2, 4.18 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) but since the rest of the staff has been so bad, he’s drawing shade along with everyone else.
The only pitchers that had been living up to their billing were deGrom and Reed, but on Sunday in Milwaukee, both pitchers got knocked around and a 7-1 Mets’ lead evaporated into a 11-9 loss. Talk about a gut punch.
“I’m leaving one ball over the middle and it’s getting hit out of the ballpark it seems like every game,” deGrom told reporters on Sunday. “It is time to do something about it.”
The Mets figured their bullpen was fresh and could hold the lead. According to Elias, the Brewers hadn’t won a game after trailing by at least six runs in the sixth inning or later since July 2, 2011 at Minnesota. Maybe in some other season, perhaps. The baseball gods are playing hardball with these Mets.
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“This is the big leagues,” manager Terry Collins said after the game. “Their job is to come in and get outs. When you call upon them, they got to come in and do the job….We didn’t get an out when we needed an out. We didn’t make a pitch when we needed a pitch.”
The Mets (16-20) are dead last in the majors in team ERA at 5.07. They are the only team with an ERA over five. The bullpen has blown six of 14 save opportunities. The Mets are 9-1 when the bullpen doesn’t allow a run and 7-19 when they do.
The problem is, they are stuck with what they have right now. At the beginning of the season, they would have taken that. The have gone from having a chance to win every time out to having severe doubts. The uncertainty is starting to take it’s toll. But what might be more disheartening is that there is no immediate help on the way.
Syndergaard (torn lat muscle) is out until after the All-Star break. Matz and Lugo both have elbow issues and the team is uncertain when either will return. Familia (blood clot) had an operation last week and is likely out for the rest of the year.
The Mets have been scoring runs in droves. A little bit of pitching could keep them competitive until mid-season but, in the unlikeliness of scenarios, this pitching-rich franchise has gone bankrupt in a hurry.