Good Morning, Mets fans!
Great win last night. The Mets, despite having had one of the league’s toughest schedules so far, are over 500 and are keeping pace with the fastest starters in the National League.
But they haven’t been hitting lately. The Mets rank poorly in nearly every offensive category (except for strikeouts!). So how have they been winning these games against good teams? Simple: their pitching and defense have carried them.
Mostly the pitching. Over the past 9 games, Mets starters have a 1.91 ERA and 8 quality starts. Over the past 4 games, the entire pitching staff (rotation & bullpen) has a 1.76 ERA. While occasional late-game bullpen shenanigans (mostly from Jose Valverde) have cost us a couple wins and made a few others very stressful, the men on the mound have given the Mets a chance to win nearly every night.
The defense has also had its moments. Sure, you’re probably still thinking about Ruben Tejada‘s botched play in the first inning. But from his point of view, in real time, it was probably hard to tell that Daniel Murphy had caught that ball on a bounce, so, if you allow him the fairly reasonable (but false) assumption that Murphy had caught the ball on the fly, his actions from that point on make sense.
Tejada went to step on the 2nd base bag, realized that wasn’t enough to get an out, and then tried to get a guy in a rundown. He should have ran back to the bag after making the first throw in the rundown, but on most plays, Murphy would have gotten there in time, so… I won’t bash Tejada too badly for that play, or the pop-up which he misplayed (nearly every fly ball gave the fielders trouble tonight with the heavy winds).
Looking at the positives: Ruben was a key part of a great play to save the game in the ninth inning for the Mets. Kirk Nieuwenhuis battled a spiraling wind gust that grabbed hold of a deep fly ball and dropped it to the ground. Kirk then fires a solid cut-off throw to Tejada, who turned and fired a strike to Travis d’Arnaud, who made an excellent diving tag to get the out at the plate.
Ruben also made a few highlight plays in his last game, and has been looking a bit better with the leather lately. Daniel Murphy‘s range has improved a good amount recently, as he continues to really get the hang of the 2nd base position. I also think that Travis d’Arnaud is looking more and more comfortable behind the plate with each passing game.
Trading Ike Davis will hurt our infield defense a bit, but Lucas Duda has been improving at first base, which is by far his best position. In the outfield, Duda and the other plodders of the past have been replaced by quality, speedy defenders, and David Wright is a Gold-Glove caliber third baseman, although I have noticed his range seems to have decreased just a tad this season. All in all, our defense looks solid, despite the occasional frustrating lapse.
The Mets will need to hit if they want to make some real noise in this league. But so far, they are off to a decent start even with many players struggling at the plate. If the hitting can start to trend upward and reach an acceptable level—and i think it will— and the pitching and defense keep excelling, the Mets will be poised to achieve Sandy Alderson’s ultimate goal: “Meaningful Games in September”.
Have a good day, Mets fans! I’ll be back this afternoon with the game recap. Let’s take the series!