The New York Mets are about as low as a team can get in this business right now after a disheartening 0-6 road trip that exposed them as a weak-pitching, fundamentally unsound club. They were swept first by the Milwaukee Brewers and then by the Diamondbacks in Arizona and it wasn’t pretty. It was the franchise’s longest winless road trip since 1999.
They began the trip at 16-17 after allowing the sagging San Francisco Giants to come back at beat them at Citi Field last Wednesday with four runs on the ninth off closer Jeurys Familia. They have continued to piss games away every day since. On this road trip, the Mets were either winning or tied in the fifth inning only to have their overtaxed bullpen spill all the gravy in the later innings. They stagger home 16-23 and hope is dwindling although manager Terry Collins isn’t about to wave the white flag.
“It’s very easy to unravel right now,” Collins told reporters after the Mets were beaten, 6-5, in extra innings on Wednesday. “I will not let that happen here. We are not going to do that. We are going to stay together, play together. I will not let this team get down.”
Well, he will get his way for a day at least. The Mets are off today, traveling back to Flushing licking their wounds, many of them self-inflicted. There are few silver linings to point to as the Mets embark on a six-game homestand in which they host the 22-21 Los Angeles Angels and the San Diego Padres, who are sporting the worst record in the National League at 15-27.
But the Mets aren’t unique in their situation. Sustaining success in the world of Major League Baseball may be the most difficult to do in any of the four major team sports. Just look at the four teams who played in the League Championship Series just two years ago. You know the Mets’ story and you know the story of the team they beat in the NLCS in 2015, the Chicago Cubs. The Cubbies finally won the World Series after 108 years in 2016, but this year could see them on the outside looking in. They are currently 20-19 to start the season, perhaps still hung over from their big party.
In the American League, the 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals are 16-23, which qualifies as the worst record in the circuit. The runners-up that year, the Toronto Blue Jays, are not faring much better. They have opened this season 17-24, the league’s second-worst mark to date.
Met fans will find no solace in this, I’m sure. They are not a bunch that holds a whole lot of empathy for the trials of other organizations. The Mets have given them enough agita to deal with.
The culprit behind the current seven-game skein has been the bullpen but considering the Mets starters have gone a team record 17 consecutive games without getting an out in the seventh inning, they really can’t be blamed too much. Especially with Familia on the shelf for what could be the remainder of the season.
Collins was trying desperately to find a silver lining after Wednesday’s loss. He pointed to his starter, the embattled Matt Harvey, who Collins said he saw some “bright things”. To Harvey’s credit, he did pitch competitively (3 runs, 6 hits and 4 walks in 5 1/3 innings). He left the game with a 4-3 lead, and of course, the bullpen could not hold it.
But today, Met fans, you have no worries. The bullpen can’t hurt you today. Come in off the ledge.