What Is Wrong With The Mets?

Coming off of a sweep at the hands of the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds, the Mets should probably consider themselves lucky.  Why you ask?  Well, just as the Mets had done when sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays only a few days earlier, their crosstown rival Yankees did the Mets a favor in their sweep of the Washington Nationals.  Its for that reason and that reason alone that the Mets remain only 4.5 games back in the division, but don’t let this little twist of luck force you into thinking that the Mets are in good shape.

Through a little more than half of June the Mets have posted a 7-9 record.  A free fall by no means, but still nothing to write home about.  Whether it be due to injuries or simple reality, the Mets are beginning to look mortal.  More importantly their offense, which carried the team through the first two months of the season, has averaged only two runs per game over their last six losses.  Just a blip on the radar?  Perhaps…but that isn’t to say that the writing hasn’t been on the wall for such struggles.

Daniel Murphy, who entered the month of June with a .305 average has batted only .197 in his last fifteen games while watching his average plummet to .274.  Since returning from the disabled list on June 1st, the surprisingly potent bat of Josh Thole has hit only .224.  If you’d like to split hairs, one could say that even David Wright, who is still hitting a very healthy .355 and .328 in the month of June has seen his offensive numbers suffer this month.  I mention these three players because they, along with the injured Ruben Tejada, carried the Mets for their very surprising first 50 games.

Offense alone isn’t to blame for the Mets June swoon.  The team’s defense as a whole has been downright awful this season.  Entering play today they have posted 52 errors, which is good for fourth worst in major league baseball.  Daniel Murphy leads all National League second-basemen with nine errors, while both David Wright and Ike Davis also rank among the worst at their respective positions.  I don’t mean to pick on anyone, but if the Mets hope to claw and scratch their way through the season, they’ll simply need to play better fundamental baseball.

The final, and in all probability largest weakness of this team has got to be the bullpen.  The Mets currently boast the worst bullpen ERA in major league baseball, at 5.40, with opponents batting a major league best .275 against them.  That’s nearly a full run worse than their closest competitor, the Chicago Cubs, who own a 4.51 bullpen ERA of their own.  That isn’t do to overwork either, as the Mets pen has pitched only 188.1 innings and finds itself in the lower third of the league in that category.  Simply put, as illustrated by their league worst 13 blown saves, the bullpen has been very, very bad.

Now with all of that having been said, as previously mentioned, the Mets still only find themselves 4.5 games back of the division leading Washington Nationals.  From here, if the team is going to continue to contend, they must play more consistent baseball.  Fundamentals will be key for a roster that probably won’t win many games on talent alone this year.  In spite of what seems to be an overwhelming amount of heart on this roster, I question this young team’s ability to pick itself up off the mat should they fall off the pace in the division for long.  Their weaknesses are apparent, if not glaring, and with the remainder of a murderous June looming the time is now for the Mets to cure what ails them, before their confidence and their season slips away.

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