The Mets concluded their brief two game set against the Oakland A’s and yet again, walked away with a split. To quote ACDC’s late Bon Scott, “I’m hot, and when I’m not, I’m cold as ice”. That pretty much sums up this series, this season and this team. Below is a 3 up/3 down review of how the Mets performed out in California the last two days.
1. Lucas Duda blasted his 23rd bomb of the season dead to center field in yesterday’s matchup. He is now tied for 4th in the National League in home runs. Among National League 1st basemen, he is 2nd in homers and 3rd in WAR (3.2). It’s also noteworthy to mention that as far as flashing the leather goes, Lucas is tied for 2nd, along with Albert Pujols, Justin Morneau and Adrian Gonzalez, in fielding percentage (.997). While The Hulk has struggled to hit for average in August, he once again proves that slugging at a high rate (.625 in this series) can cure a lot of offensive woes for a struggling lineup.
2. Eric Campbell gets souped to play baseball. The rookie utility man went 4 for 7 in this series (.572) and he was the first to get the Mets on board during yesterday’s onslaught by launching his third home run on the season to center field. Campbell has quietly produced at a high rate despite inconsistent playing time, coming up with clutch hits, all while manning several positions defensively around the field.
3. Zack Wheeler bounced back against the A’s. We all remember the last time Zack faced Oakland on June 25th at Citi Field, turning in arguably the worst performance of his young career. He gave up 6 hits and 6 earned runs before being pulled with only 2 innings of work. Wheeler once again showed maturity and grit, despite some borderline comical defense behind him. This outing, the young gun went 5 2/3 innings and allowed only 2 earned runs (two others were scored on Daniel Murphy’s fielding error on a routine ground ball). As Anthony DiComo of MLB.com noted, Wheeler is 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA since June 30th. The Mets have now won 7 of Zack’s last 10 outings.
1. Dillon Gee continues to struggle since returning from the disabled list on July 9th, including Tuesday’s loss, which was his fifth straight. Gee is by no means overpowering, he relies heavily on his command and his high baseball IQ to maneuver the ball in and off the plate and keep hitters off balance and guessing. Prior to his DL stint, Gee was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, posting the 4th best ERA among pitchers with at least 175 innings as of May 30th, 2013. Since his return, he is 1-5 with a 5.06 ERA.
2. Juan Lagares is slumping and he needs to bust out. The Mets are lethargic in a lot of their decision making, but one thing they are quick to do is bench Lagares when he goes into a minor slump. He is an unbelievably talented player defensively and has shown such vast improvements offensively from last year. I fear that one bad streak will land him on the pine and derail his development through the end of the season because Terry Collins feels the need to choose someone else and “get them going”, or whatever generic phrase he uses in lieu of a specific, analytic response. Lagares went hitless in Tuesday’s loss and didn’t get any at bats on Wednesday, hitting .107 in his last 10 games combined. Hopefully it’s just a bit of fatigue and the rest will have him back to producing at a respectable clip.
3. Curtis Granderson is equally as responsible as David Wright for this teams power outage. Granderson hasn’t hit a home run since July 26th and he’s slugging an abysmal .179 in the month of August, producing only 1 double and 0 triples. He has been given ample opportunities to thrive, even owning the lead-off spot for an extended period of time in order to get his production up, but in reality he was paid to come here and protect Wright in the cleanup spot. I can appreciate his professionalism, but fans can also appreciate seeing the team’s high rollers put some wood on the ball.