Esposito: It’s A Make Or Break June For The Mets

“As the calendar turns” is not a soap opera, but it sometimes feels like one at Citi Field. At the dawn of the new month, the Mets must determine if they are contenders or pretenders in the next 30 days.

For the first two weeks of the season, they were contenders and looked like world-beaters going 11-1. For the last seven weeks, they’ve been pure pretenders as their early dominance collapsed like a paper castle in the rain.

Just like the lyrics to Frank Sinatra’s famous tune, “That’s Life,” the Mets were “riding high in April, shot down in May.” They can only hope that they “get back on top in June.”

Oh sure, glass-half-full patrons can point to the miserable luck they’ve had, and with 11 players on the DL, you can sing the blues…if they didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all. They’ve already employed 42 players in the first two months – 20 batters and 22 pitchers, which is occasionally the amount you’d use over the course of an entire 162-game campaign, but in this case, we’re just one-third of the way through.

But when you look deeper, even a full cast of characters would likely be in the same mediocre position, with the main department responsible for their disappointments being the bullpen.

The pen has a record of 13-14, a 4.41 ERA, and opponents are batting .248. They’ve yielded 28 home runs, 101 earned runs in 206.1 innings, with 203 strikeouts, and have issued 87 free passes, way too many for what was supposed to be a strength, not a weakness.

The starters are actually just as guilty, as they’ve lasted an average of just 5.2 innings per start, which puts way too much strain on the bullpen. All those three and four inning abbreviated starts, with games where the starter lasted just one inning, and you’ve got bullpen overload. Ironically, stats for the starters are similar to the pen. In 281.2 innings, their record is 14-13, 4.03 ERA, 279 hits, 126 earned runs, 89 walks, 300 Ks (thanks mainly to Jake and Thor), 36 home runs, .256 opponents average.

Also guilty, your honor, are the bats. Team batting average through 54 games is .242, smack in the middle of the pack, 8th in the NL. They’re 12th in runs scored (225), tied for tenth in home runs (57), 7th in walks (191), tenth in runners left on base (374), and only four NL clubs have grounded into more double plays (42).

They are, however, sixth in fewest errors committed (31), for a .984 fielding average, so that’s almost a positive sign.

They are going to need more positive signs if they toughen up for June. There’s 26 games on the docket, 14 at home. After this weekend series with the Cubbies, the Orioles come to town for a two-game revival of the ‘69 World Series matchup. And then you-know-who crosses the Triborough (aka RFK) Bridge for next weekend.

And can the media stop acting like the annual Subway Series is no longer a big deal. Tell that to the over 40,000 paying customers who will fill the ballpark each day that these games have “lost their juice.” The press box will be packed as well, so what does that tell you.

Hey, when Jake and Thor are facing Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and their new wonderkid, Gleyber Torres, there will be juice. Plenty of it. And for Mets fans, hopefully both Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard will be healthy and ready for the rivalry reunion.

But as sure as the sun rises tomorrow, you’ll see some newspaper headlines demeaning this year’s edition of the Subway Series, and there’ll be some talk show fodder about how the games don’t carry as much weight.

Speaking of talk show fodder, enough with the crazy talk about the Mets and Yankees making a trade regarding Jacob deGrom. Ain’t gonna happen, no matter how all of those wanna-be junior GMs structure a deal.

Yes, on the surface, if the Mets do go into rebuilding mode – and it’s way too early to do so, anyway – what the Mets have and what the Yankees have makes sense in terms of need and want. But you already know the crosstown rivals rarely deal with each other, and even then it’s for inconsequential players who fade into the background soon thereafter.

Yes, there was that deal sending Robin Ventura to the Yankees for David Justice a couple of decades ago, but the Mets couldn’t wait to get rid of Justice and dealt him to Oakland before he could even be fitted for a Mets uniform.

Both organizations might even publicly say they have no problem dealing with each other, but the Yankees never want to see their prospects prosper for the Mets, and Mets management certainly doesn’t want to see their star pitcher go on to win Cy Youngs for the Yankees and help that club enjoy a World Series or two.

Bad optics, as Mets GM Sandy Alderson likes to say.

But can you imagine? This is not an endorsement, or prediction, as the Mets would have to be overwhelmed to even consider a deal. And Yankees GM Brian Cashman wouldn’t want to give up his top blue chips even for such a pitcher as deGrom. But if you want to hear an overwhelming offer, it would have to be something like: Outfielders Clint Frazier and Estevan Florial, infielders Miguel Andujar and Tyler Austin, and pitcher Justus Sheffield, for deGrom. And maybe, just maybe, that would be fair for both clubs.

But like said, ain’t gonna happen.

After the Yankees, the Mets see the Braves again, D-Backs, Rockies, Dodgers, Pirates, and Marlins through to the end of the month. All of the above, with the exception of the O’s and Jeter’s Marlins, have a shot at postseason play thus far. It’s definitely a make or break June.

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