New York Mets 18-Game Analysis

Last night’s 5-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals perfectly sums up the New York Mets so far this year. The Mets were down to their final strike in the bottom of the ninth down 2-0. Then, in what can only be described as a miracle, the Mets took advantage of a throwing error by Nolan Arenado and scored five unanswered runs. Edwin Diaz came in to shut the door in the bottom of the ninth and the Mets got their league-leading 13th win.

It was an iconic comeback that showed the grit of this team. In most years, the team would have just accepted defeat. However, this team took advantage of the situation and turned it into a win.

After 18 games, the Mets have a 13-5 record and lead the National League East. There has been plenty to like about this team, including a new-look offense and a strong rotation. Other parts, like the bullpen, could still use some work. Overall though, this Mets team has quickly established itself as a threat to the rest of the league.

Before we move forward, however, let’s analyze what this team has done so far.

Stellar Starters

Even without the presence of ace Jacob deGrom (whose most recent MRI showed a slight improvement), the starting rotation has shined. Tylor Megill, Max Scherzer, Chris Bassitt, David Peterson and Carlos Carrasco have a combined record of 9-1 with a 1.92 ERA and 105 strikeouts. Scherzer specifically has been excellent, including his seven-inning, 10-strikeout performance against the Cardinals yesterday. His 33 strikeouts so far are tied with the Milwaukee Brewers’ ace Corbin Burnes as the most in the league and his 0.76 WHIP is in the top-10. He has certainly looked and played that part that Mets fans were hoping for.

While Megill’s improvement/emergence from last season is important, the biggest improvement for me so far has been Carrasco. Acquired with Francisco Lindor in a trade with the Cleveland Guardians, Carrasco dealt with injury problems last season. He only managed to make 12 starts, ending the season with a 1-5 record and a 6.04 ERA. He underwent a procedure over the offseason and has come back looking stellar. In his most recent outing on April 21st, he pitched 7.2 innings against the red-hot San Francisco Giants, surrendering only two runs as he looked to close out that eighth inning. Even though he wasn’t able to close it out, he still walked off the field to a standing ovation, having racked up seven strikeouts. His continued success is vital to the Mets and we’ll see how he does against the Cardinals tomorrow.

What Sophomore Slump?

Speaking of former Guardians, we have to take a moment to appreciate Francisco Lindor. After a less-than-ideal first season for the Mets (barring a memorable Subway Series game), he has come back with a vengeance–looking to silence those who doubted him. While “sophomore slumps” tend to happen frequently, the opposite has been true for Lindor.

Through 18 games he is batting .294/.388/.529 with 12 RBIs and 10 runs. He has four home runs so far, the first three of which all came by April 15th. To put that in perspective, Lindor didn’t hit his third home run last year until May 15th–a whole month difference. Additionally, he has been a threat on the basepaths as the Mets have played more aggressively. So far, he already has three stolen bases after finishing all of last season with 10. Even though his defense has looked a little shaky on a couple of plays, he is making up for it with his offense. This hot start to the season is important for him and hopefully, he can maintain his good form throughout the season.

Offense All Over…

Outside of yesterday’s game against the Cardinals (they didn’t score until the 9th inning), the Mets’ bats have been on fire. They lead the league in hits with 155, they are tied for first with the Los Angeles Dodgers with 86 runs, they are second overall with 80 RBIs and they are tied for third with the Guardians with a .256 AVG. Besides Lindor, there are threats all over the roster.

Jeff McNeil is having himself a great start to the season, looking like the McNeil of 2019 where he finished with a .318 AVG. So far this year, he is batting .316 with seven RBIs and 10 runs. Next, you have Pete Alonso, who is fourth in the league with 16 RBIs so far. He has three home runs and did well hitting the other way against the Cardinals.

On top of all that you have the three newest additions: Starling Marte, Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar. Marte is second on the team with 13 RBIs and has four stolen bases so far–even though his AVG is only .235. Escobar started off a little slow but has improved recently, sitting at 16 hits and leading the team with 13 walks, showing his plate discipline. Finally, there is Canha who, despite missing time with COVID-19, has had a good start to the season; he is hitting .317 with six RBIs. It’s always difficult to start on a new team (take Lindor last year), but these three players seem to have started on the right foot.

…But that Bullpen Though

The only real problem for the Mets so far is their bullpen. It was one of their biggest problems heading into the season and it remains that way so far after 18 games. To put it into perspective, five of the Mets’ nine relief pitchers have an ERA above 4.00. Trevor Williams, including his one “opener” start, has a 9.82 ERA and Trevor May, who had a decent first season last year in Queens, has an 8.53 ERA. In fact, he was the one who blew the lead last night against the Cardinals. Funnily enough, his teammates’ comeback in the ninth gave him the win–when it was looking like he would be credited with a loss. Additionally, Seth Lugo, normally one of the Mets’ most reliable arms, has a 4.70 ERA with one blown save.

There have been some bright spots, however. Drew Smith has looked great so far, having yet to surrender a run over seven innings in seven games. Additionally, newcomer Adam Ottavino has a 1-0 record and 1.50 ERA over six innings in six games. Lastly, fellow newcomer Chasen Shreve has a 2.57 ERA with nine strikeouts. This group makes up the strongest part of the Mets’ bullpen.

Conclusion

Even though it’s only been 18 games, this already feels like a different type of Mets team. They are hitting more, playing more aggressively and not quitting when it gets tough. While their opponents haven’t been the most difficult, they have still shown their strengths–including winning three of four at home against the Giants. In fact, they have won all of their series so far.

As is usually the case for the Mets, things will probably change by the time June comes. However, Mets fans should still be optimistic about their team. Just based on last night’s win alone, something is different in the air. With the help of new skipper Buck Showalter, the Mets are more aggressive, grittier and not willing to quit. All of this has created a great start to the season so far for the Mets. They may not be perfect, but they sure are fun.

 

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