If you’re like every Mets fan, through the first 46 games of the season you’ve likely been saying how terrible our offense is, and how we need to trade from our glut of young pitching for a big bat. After all, the Mets are hitting .234 as a team, while slugging a paltry .351. Both good for 14th out of 15 teams, with the only team below us in those categories being the punchless San Diego Padres.
Yet, somehow, the Mets are 5th in the NL in runs per game. They also sit in the top 3 in walks, stolen bases, and rank 6th in RBIs. Sure we could use more offense, but considering the large dimensions of the stadium, and the strong winds seemingly always gusting toward home plate from the Flushing Bay, I’m not so sure it’s the offense we should be concerned about.
While we are dead last among NL teams in batting average, on-base & slugging percentage at home, we are 3rd, 3rd, and 7th in those same categories in games in which we play on the road. I know this is going to be hard for you to believe, but we are currently the best offensive team in baseball when we play on the road, as we have averaged 4.95 runs per game, slightly ahead of the Dodgers who sit at 4.76. The simple fact is that its tough for anyone to hit in Citi Field. Especially in the cooler months of April and May. I would wager that those numbers start to increase a bit as the weather warms up and the wind dies down. We will see in a very short time.
What’s concerning to me is that we are currently sitting at 11th place in team ERA out of 15 teams. When you consider the fact that we DO have such a tough park in which to hit the baseball, and our pitching is supposed to be our area of strength, its quite the opposite thus far.
We are currently 12th in ERA in road games, but our staff isn’t taking advantage of pitching in half of our games in Citi Field. We are also 12th in ERA in home games. That goes along way to figuring out why we are 11-11 on the road, and just 10-14 at home. The offense has been much better on the road, but that is to be expected. What isn’t and should not be expected is that our pitching staff is at or near the bottom of the league no matter where we play.
Jon Niese has been good when he pitches at home this season to the tune of 2-2 and a 2.87 ERA, but he has been a touch better on the road at 1-1 with a 2.49 ERA. Dillon Gee has been pretty good at home (1-1, 3.18), but he has been lights out on the road (2-0, 1.93). Zack Wheeler is taking advantage of the unfriendly confines, sporting a 3.50 ERA at home and 5.12 on the road. Bartolo Colon is as well (3.15 home, 6.51 away). Mejia has been much better at home 3.12 at home, and 6.48 on the road. For the most part our starters have been taking advantage of pitching in Citi Field.
It looks like the bullpen is the culprit, as Jeurys Familia (4.82 home, 2.31 away), Gonzalez Germen (6.75 home, 0.00 away), and Josh Edgin (9.00 home, 0.00 away) all have much higher ERAs at home. Parnell and Lannan also pitched one inning each at home in the early part of the season and provided a 9.00 and 36.00 ERA respectively. With Lannan and Farnsworth no longer with the team, the bullpen should be pitching better at home from here on out. I think now that we have defined some roles for the relievers, we will see a much improved bullpen.
Jenrry Mejia has looked really sharp as our potential new closer, as he has yet to give up a run in his 5 appearances while converting both of his save opportunities. Dice-K has looked really good as the setup man of late. He has walked his fair share of hitters, but opponents aren’t hitting him at all, as they have mustered a batting average of just .130 against him for the season. Familia looks like he is feeling more comfortable in a 7th inning role as his ERA for the season now sits at 3.43, and he’s pitched to the tune of a 2.70 ERA in his last 10 appearances. Scott Rice seems to have recovered from whatever was bothering him to open the season. He hasn’t given up a run in his last 5 appearances.
The bottom line is that with an organization that has put such an emphasis on pitching being our strength, they simply haven’t held up their end of the bargain up to this point. With Gee coming back from injury, and deGrom taking Mejia’s place in the rotation, as well as our bullpen finally settling into some defined roles, things should be looking up for the pitching staff. If you would’ve told me before the season that we would’ve scored the 5th most runs per game in the NL, I would’ve thought there would be no way we would be below .500.
We play our next six games at home against two last place teams in Arizona and Pittsburgh, and then go on the road to play five games against the last place Phillies, who just placed Cliff Lee on the DL, and then off to Chicago to play a less than fierce opponent in the Cubs. Now would be a good time for our pitching staff to start pitching like the strength of this team, because the offense is putting up enough runs to win. They may not be scoring runs the way we want them score, by hammering the ball over the fence, or out-slugging their opponents, but they are scoring nonetheless.