The Washington Nationals stopped by Queens on Tuesday night to kick off a 3 game set against the NY Mets. If there was ever a point in the season where the Amazins’ could have used a miracle, it was this series. Having taken 3 of 4 from the lowly Phillies, the Mets had the potential to surprise the baseball world with a last minute turnaround had they taken even 2 out of 3 from the Nats. Enter worst case scenario, the short end of a series sweep. It was tough to salvage any valuable gems from this set, but here’s 3 bright spots from the series followed by 3 stark realities.
1. Travis d’Arnaud, while a times taking small dips in production, has given Mets fans a solid glimpse into the type of offensive talent he truly is. Honestly, if there’s one takeaway from this season, it’s that d’Arnaud has learned to be a middle of the order offensive threat, in an organization that is riddled with all types of financial, managerial and developmental issues. In this series, Travis batted an even .300 with a double and a home run. Over his last 7 games, he’s hitting .318 with 3 bombs and 3 walks, giving him an impressive OPS of 1.173.
2. Bartolo Colon delivered another solid outing in a game where his offense just didn’t show to play. The Mets mustered 9 hits compared to 8 by Washington, but couldn’t drive anyone over home plate. Regardless, big ‘tolo still churned out 7 innings, registering 8 strikeouts, while giving up 1 earned run, lowering his total ERA on the season to 3.85. As ironic as it sounds, The two most durable starting pitchers for the Mets this year have been the oldest, 41 year old Colon and the youngest, 24 year old Zach Wheeler. I’ve begin to accept that keeping Colon may be in the Mets best interest next year, given his track record of availability. Besides, looking at his numbers and realizing that he’d probably be the number 4 starter behind Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler and Jacob deGrom says volumes about how dominating this squad can be next year.
3. This is a backhanded positive thought, but CBS did report on Wednesday that Terry Collins is “likely” to return as Mets manager barring any collapse or serious concerns. Being swept by the Nationals at home should be a startling message to the front office that the baseball “sources” leaking the vote of confidence for Collins need to remain quiet. If the Mets are going to return to the playoffs in 2015, they’ll have to go through Washington and this team’s results under Terry are certainly a serious cause for concern.
1. The Nationals have now won 11 consecutive games at Citi Field dating back to last season. Washington has produced a dominating run differential of 74-21 during that span. Those 11 games are now an MLB franchise record, overtaking the 10 game record held by the Montreal Expos when they visited the Chicago Cubs between the 82-83 seasons.
2. Home runs were a massive issue for Mets starters Rafael Montero and Dillon Gee in this series. Montero allowed 3 home runs on 7 hits, surrendering 5 earned runs in 5 innings pitched. Gee only allowed 4 hits in his start, but also allowed 4 walks which maximized the long balls served up to Mets killer Adam LaRoche and young superstar Bryce Harper, who each had two run blasts. As manager Terry Collins noted, “We can’t keep the ball in the park and we can’t hit them out”. I’ll let the comment section discuss that analysis by the skipper.
3. Touching upon the above, the Mets were right in line with the Nats in terms of hits. In the series, Washington had a total of 25 hits, compared to 21 by the Mets. However, the Mets couldn’t hit the ball far enough when there were men on base to complete that crucial part of an offensive life cycle called scoring. New York left a total of 20 men on base this series.
The “youth initiative” involving Matt den Dekker and Wilmer Flores‘ recent promotions was a step in the right direction, but not a full shift of momentum. This club is still plagued by the inability to remain consistent and play like a team that is truly a “piece or two” away from contentIon. Leadership is a glaring deficiency, even more so than the offensive woes. This organization has such an incredible wealth of young talent that has flourished this year, but it won’t be enough until a signal is sent to the whole squad that losing isn’t acceptable and will not be tolerated by anyone in the dugout.