by Jesse Liptzin, special to NY SportsDay
The second half of the MLB season is upon us and the Mets are sitting at 43-51. That’s below the Braves, Nationals, and Phillies for 4th in the division. Just looking at that some may feel like the team is falling apart and other optimists think the team could be right in the mix. It doesn’t help when stars like Robinson Cano and Yoenis Cespedes have been absent from play.
Cano has a mere six homeruns in 275 plate appearances. Another off-season pickup in the season was Jed Lowrie who has been hurt all year and is currently on the 60 day IL. Manager Mickey Callaway recently said about Lowrie’s unknown future, “He’s just doing baseball activities at this point, trying to get to where he can get into a game.’’
Injuries are never good, but worse when your star players are impacted, leaving a team to feel hopeless. Nevertheless, the Mets offense has not been the real issue. The bullpen has been the Achilles’ heel for this team and they have been getting exposed. With an MLB leading 21 blown saves they only have managed to complete 23 saves this year. Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia are not helping either. The two have combined for seven losses and their ERAs are higher than 7.00. At the All-Star break the team had time for celebration after Pete Alonso won the Home Run Derby against Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Alonso and Jeff McNeil were the two only Mets in the All-star game.
The Mets find themselves in a precarious position in which they have two starting pitchers that could be on the move. Should they not experience an immediate second half resurgence, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, despite having ERAs north of 4 will be highly sought after by teams in playoff contention (depending on the severity of Wheeler’s injury).
“Hopefully we don’t lose too many guys, but it’s just the nature of the game,” Michael Conforto said to the New York Post. That it is and for the Mets the trade deadline is going to be a busy time. Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, and even Milwaukee could be contenders for those starters. Catcher Wilson Ramos, who is hitting a productive .273 can’t find his way on defense which gives the Mets reason to put him in the trade block as well. A fan favorite Todd Frazier and pitcher Jason Vargas could also be on the move as this team tries to reset for a fresh start in 2020.
The Mets do have a number of bright spots, plenty to build around for the future if they do dump some veterans and go with the youth movement. The Mets have some building pieces in place, the MLB leader in batting, McNeil is batting .348 and is young and talented. They also have the aforementioned home run derby champ and the all-time homerun leader for Met rookies in Alonso. This kid can play! Mets fans also have Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom to lead the rotation where he is still one of the top pitchers in the game. In relief Seth Lugo has been able to help out and in the month of July where he has not given up a run over six appearances. The team has some pieces to work with, so all is not lost–it is possible that they could salvage the season as well!
A couple of trades at the deadline and a return of players from the injury list could help the team become a force to reckon with. Still, it looks like this season is just in preparation for the future. GM, Brodie Van Wagenen has said, “We have to face our reality to some degree about where we are in the standings.”
After this comment it’s not shocking that the Mets reduced some ticket prices to 80% off face value. So the outlook for the rest of the season could become clearer as we get closer to the deadline. It is fascinating to realize that if the Mets didn’t blow any of those saves they could be near the top of the division and looking at the rest of the season as a playoff contender. Now they look the other way as they start to rebuild for the future.