Russell: Mets Under .500 At Break

On August 30, 1973 the Mets were in last place of a six-team National League East. A spirited September gave the team a stunning division title and an upset of the Reds put them in the World Series. 
Now that we got that out of the way, the Mets should be sellers at the deadline. The candidates are obvious. Todd Frazier. Jason Vargas. Zack Wheeler. A promising season with a solid roster has been derailed by a brutal bullpen. The thought of adding Tigers closer Shane Greene is intriguing but surely a contender could offer Detroit more than the Mets are able to at the moment. 
The Mets are 40-50 after Sunday’s 8-3 loss to the Phillies. They are 13.5 games out of first place, same as they were at the break last year. 
Mickey Callaway acknowledged the team has to play with “urgency” after the All-Star break. 
“I feel like we can make a run at this thing,” he said. “We can sneak into that wild card, sneak back in this division. Look what the Nationals have done in a two-and-a-half week period. Anything can happen in baseball. I’ve seen it all and we need to have a sense of urgency because of the possibilities. And in my mind anything’s possible.”
So how did it get to this point after 90 games?
The Mets are 23-19 at home but 17-31 away from Citi Field. But the main culprit has been the relievers. 
“We’ve leaned on our bullpen probably less than anybody in the major leagues,” Callaway said. “And that’s been the part that has probably hurt us the most. So that’s probably the most frustrating part. The part that you don’t lean on a ton and it hurts you.”
He added that he believes the current bullpen has enough talent. 
A number of losses have been particularly tough for the Mets. There was the 18-inning loss in Milwaukee, with the Mets tying the game in the ninth and going ahead nine innings later only to see Chris Flexen surrender a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. 
There was a May sweep at the hands of the Marlins in Miami. 
Blowing two four-run leads in the eighth inning in four days, something that had happened twice in the previous 10 years. Edwin Diaz gave up an 8-5 ninth inning lead in Los Angeles and the bullpen combined to lose 6-5 in Arizona after leading 5-1. 
Javy Baez hitting a three-run homer off a tired Seth Lugo at Wrigley. And a recent four game sweep in Philadelphia, including a five-run bottom of the ninth for the Phillies in the finale. 
There are positives for the Mets — specifically Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil — but the Mets have the second-worst record in the National League. 
Sure there are two wild cards but with virtually the entire league in front of them, the Mets would need not only an incredible hot streak but struggles from about a half-dozen other teams. 
A shakeup with the coaching staff didn’t help. 
The Mets don’t have to trade immediately. The deadline is at the end of the month. But barring a  major hot stretch, it should be clear the Mets are sellers. 
About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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