The Mets are in free fall.
I feel as though I’ve said this a few times over the past few seasons, but it feels more real than ever. The Mets are back to the mediocre, excruciating brand of baseball that has dominated the franchise’s history.
The nightmare scenario for the Mets is here. The pitching has fallen off a cliff and now has the worst ERA in all of baseball. Who would have predicted that in March? The bullpen has been a massive disappointment too, and with Jeurys Familia gone for quite a while, the ‘pen is crying for outside help.
The offense has finally come together as I have been predicting over the past few seasons, and has done so without the help of Yoenis Cespedes. In fact, the offense, for all its success, may still be the victim of some bad luck, as Maggie Wiggin laid out in her piece yesterday. But even if the offense further improves, it’s hard to see the team making any sort of noise without sudden major improvements by the starting pitching. Relief may soon be on the way with Steven Matz and Seth Lugo returning, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for them to save the season.
I’m not totally sold on the idea that the Mets are done, but I’m well aware of fans turning their attention back to the future. However, as is typical of Mets fans in times of crisis, the reaction has been rife with panic and irrational proposals.
Mets management certainly needs to clear house. The training staff must be fired. Terry Collins should probably join them. But the story is different for the actual roster.
It’s easy to second-guess the decision to build around young starting pitching, but it was the right decision, especially after getting solid performances out of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz the last few years. It’s hard enough to get a bunch of good young players — hitters or pitchers — together at the same time. To take the risk of flipping them for offensive players who may also flop in the end adds another level of uncertainty. Some may argue that trading away some of the starting pitchers may be smarter because they are supposedly less risky than young hitters. At the same time, however, that’s also a strong argument in favor of stockpiling young pitchers. If one goes down with injury, wouldn’t you want a solid group behind him to pick up the slack?
Some will say they predicted all this, but those people did so irrationally. Nobody could have genuinely predicted star pitcher after star pitcher falling victim to injury or dramatic drops in performance all at the same time.
Sandy Alderson made mostly right calls, but sometimes the right calls don’t give you a winning ballclub in the end. Political or business leaders sometimes implement policy that was very smart at the time, but due to circumstances no one could rationally foresee, didn’t work. It may be tempting in this moment of frustration to want knee-jerk changes, that’s not going to help the Mets in the long-run.
Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir here, but there’s no need to break up this team. Noah Syndergaard will very likely continue to be a dominant force when he returns in a few months, as will Jeurys Familia. Michael Conforto is one of the best hitters on the planet right now. Odds are, at least some of the struggling starters will come around. Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith are killing it in Triple-A right now, looking more like MLB starters every day. In fact, as our own David Cassilo wrote yesterday, the immediate future — not five years from now — remains incredibly bright.