For the second straight season, the New York Mets season ended with a playoff loss at home. As depressing as that sounds, when I look at the bigger picture, I’m not surprised.
The season started out with high hopes of a repeat trip to the World Series. With a vaunted starting rotation of Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Bartolo Colon the biggest question was who would get bumped when Zack Wheeler returned from Tommy John surgery in July.
Reality soon set in. Harvey went down, Wheeler wasn’t coming back this year. deGrom and Matz ended their seasons early, also due to injury. Colon wound up being the healthiest pitcher for the season along with Syndergaard. The late season arrivals of Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Rafael Montero filled the holes in the rotation better than anyone had expected, but by that time, the Mets hopes of repeating as Division Champions had been replaced with an all-out drive to claim a Wild-Card Spot.
The Pitching staff was not the only unit affected by the injury bug. Pretty much every regular starter went down at some point this season, with David Wright, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker all missing significant time.
Although the pitching was able to hold it together for most of the season, the offense relied heavily on the Home Run to score the majority of their runs this season. There were only 10 wins out of the 87 that occurred without a home run hit. No matter how good your pitching is, you need to balance your power with good old fashioned small ball. Yoenis Cespedes provided the majority of the power, hitting team-leading 31 Home Runs, but spent nearly a month playing injured until going on the Disabled List in late July.
After falling 2 games below .500 in mid-August, another playoff push similar to 2015 propelled the Mets to the top Wild-Card spot.
The game against the San Francisco Giants was billed as an epic pitching matchup between Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner. In throwing 7 innings of 2-hit ball while striking out 10 , Syndergaard was brilliant. Unfortunately, Bumgarner was just that much better. Combine the best playoff pitcher of recent memory with a streaky offense, and it was just Bumgarner’s night in a 3-0 Giants victory.
2017 will start to take shape soon, with several questions to be answered. What will the health status of the rotation be? Does Cespedes come back, or does he opt out, and become a free-agent again? How will Third base play out next year with both Wright and Jose Reyes able to play?
I compare this season to the 2015 Washington Nationals. Both were expected to surpass their performance from the prior season, but both were decimated by injury. The big difference between the 2016 Mets and 2015 Nationals was managing. Although Terry Collins will be questioned about many of the moves he made this season, he was able to get the team back into the playoffs where Matt Williams was unable to do in 2015 with Washington.
I have high hopes for next season, and know that with good health and fortune, a third straight trip to the post-season will be a very real possibility.