It’s been a rocky road for the New York Mets so far season. Through the early part of June, the defending NL champs have excelled and struggled at times simultaneously, a combination that somehow has kept this Jekyll and Hyde squad from falling into a field of mediocrity. Currently 33-26 and still just 2.5 games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East, the Mets can thank stellar pitching for keeping them afloat amidst an extended slump.
For every step forward, they take two steps back. The Mets have been mediocre since May 17, going 11-10 while scoring an anemic three runs per game. The team has been hindered by a slew of injuries. David Wright is scheduled to be out for an extended period of time with a herniated disk in his back, and Lucas Duda is right behind him with a stress fracture in his lower back.
After a hot April, the bats have cooled off considerably. Though Wilmer Flores recently returned and played the role of hero last night with the game-winning RBI over the Pittsburgh Pirates and Travis D'Arnaud return appears to be approaching, no player in the Mets lineup is hitting above .290, and the team’s .231 batting average is tied with the Philadelphia Phillies for second worst in baseball. An over-reliance on home runs has slowed scoring down to a crawl. Hitting with runners in scoring position, a worry since the beginning of the season, has become all the more apparent in June — a dismal .215.
Those who have remained healthy in the lineup have struggled. Michael Conforto, who blazed through the early portion of the season, is nine of his last 52. While he hopes to warm up, the bottom of the lineup is the team’s most glaring weakness. Call-ups Ty Kelly Rene Rivera and others have tried to produce with little success.
However, not all is lost in Queens. Conforto did come through last night, tying the game with a two-run homer in the eighth, in addition to a homer earlier in the game by Kelly. The Mets have also traded again for Kelly Johnson, who proved to be a useful bat and infielder during their World Series push last year. Though he has struggled this season, Johnson hit a respectable .250 for the Mets last year.
Thankfully, pitching has not been much of the worry so far this season. Boasting a 3.15 team ERA (second best in baseball), the Mets’ hurlers have steadied the ship as best as possible. After a tumultuous beginning to the season on and off the field, Matt Harvey appears to have gotten into a rhythm, only giving up one earned run in his last two solid outings. Meanwhile, the trio of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz has held up to its end of the bargain, and Jeurys Familia seems to always find a way to scratch out a safe though he struggles elsewhere. With Zach Wheeler most likely returning in mid-July, the Mets will hope to send a potential ace to the mound every night.
The road ahead is a challenging one. The Milwaukee Brewers are next in line, and they the Mets swept earlier this season. The Braves follow before a homestand that will feature the Pirates and defending champion Royals. If the Mets want any chance of returning to the Fall Classic this season, their hitting has to meet stellar pitching halfway.