1. Off the Snide
Put aside the Padres being a last place team who has struggled to hit. The Mets made a trip to the West Coast having lost three straight series. Moreover, they were going to a place of horrors for them. After all, this is the place Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron dove into each other.
Since Petco Park opened in 2004, the Mets had won just one series there, and that was over a decade ago. The team had never scored double digit runs in a game. For a Mets team looking to right the ship, this was a the wrong place to do so.
And yet, they did it, and during the series, the Mets saw some players rejuvenated as well.
Adrian Gonzalez, Petco Park’s all-time home run leader, added to his total yesterday in a game where he went 3-for-6 with a double, homer, and five RBI.
Even the much maligned Jose Reyes contributed going 2-for-5 with three runs, a homer, RBI, walk, and a stolen base.
Sometimes is just takes a series like this to right the ship. With the Mets having a somewhat big home series against the Braves, it looks like they got back on track, and they have their aces lined up to make a real statement.
2. Wheeler Decent Effort
With the three through five starters for the Mets really struggling, and Matt Harvey not making real positive steps in the bullpen so far, the Mets needed a starting pitcher not named Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard go out there and put up at least a solid effort. Zack Wheeler did that on Sunday.
In his five innings of work, Wheeler allowed two runs on six hits. Impressively, he struck out nine while allowing just two walks. We can nitpick about his needing 95 pitches to get through five, but bottom line is he went out there, and he got the the job done.
And really, aside from his prior start against the Cardinals, Wheeler has been quite good this year. Really, in three of his four starts, he has done enough for the Mets to look upon him as a solid third member of this rotation. Considering how the Mets have been scrambling for pitchers in 2016 and 2017, this is an impornt development.
3. Mets Considering First Base Options
Gonzalez’s big game does obfuscate how much he has struggled of late. Entering yesterday’s game, he was one for his last 17 with no extra base hits. Really, he has begun to force the Mets hands.
The message being conveyed is this is a way to try to find some at-bats for Brandon Nimmo, but really if Gonzalez was Gonzalez, this would never be considered.
If things progress, it is very possible the Mets may look into their minor leagues for a new first baseman. If they do, they will find both a hot hitting Dominic Smith, and an unconscious Peter Alonso.
Ultimately, while the Mets aren’t getting much from first base now, they have plenty of good options, and it is very good news they have begun to consider them.
1. Cespedes’ All Thumbs
Yesterday’s much needed laugher was dampened by Yoenis Cespedes having to leave the game with an apparent thumb injury he sustained while sliding head first on a double steal. Fortunately for the Mets, the x-rays were negative, and Cespedes said from his previous experience with this type of injury was only going to need to take three days off.
While the Mets are fortunate this was not a more severe injury, the injury could not have happened at a worse time.
After a very slow start, Cespedes has broken out.
Over his last six games, he is 8-for-24 with two doubles, two homers, and seven RBI. Just as Cespedes started to hit like Cespedes, he’s now going to be unavailable for the team as they face off against the Braves, who just beat the Mets in Atlanta, and are just two games behind the Mets in the division.
Hopefully, Cespedes isn’t delayed in his return, and when he does return, he can get back to being Cespedes.
2. Can’t Shoulder the Load
Believe it or not, Michael Conforto now has a .317 SLG so far this season. He hasn’t homered since his first game back from the disabled list, and his last extra base hit was on April 11. Put another way, Conforto is a singles hitter.
With his shoulder injury last year, you do need to pause to see if this is really who Conforto is.
According to Fangraphs, Conforto’s hard hit ball percentage is now just 29.5 percent. That’s lower than the 41.6 percent mark he had last year. It’s even lower than the 39.9 percent mark he had in 2016 when he was dealing with a wrist injury. It’s part of the reason why his HR/FB rate is 6.3 percent. To put it in perspective how troubling this is, Juan Lagares has a 29.6 percent hard hit ball percentage.
Maybe this is small sample sizes and maybe this is his not having a real Spring Training. However, with Conforto not getting an extra base hit in his last 44 plate appearances, it is time to get concerned.
3. Left Out
With Mets starting pitching struggling, the team desperately needed a decent start from a starting pitcher not named deGrom or Syndergaard, Jason Vargas got shellacked by the Padres.
Basically, the team with the lowest batting average in the majors entering the game, and a team who would lose Wil Myers during the game, looked like the 1927 Yankees playing in pre-humidor Coors Field. In total, he allowed nine earned in 3.2 innings. What’s scary is things could have been worse had Lagares not robbed a home run in the game.
It’s not just Vargas. All the Mets left-handed pitching is struggling right now.
Steven Matz has gone into the fifth in just two of his five starts, and now his turn in the rotation is being skipped because he is dealing with a back issue. As we have seen in Matz’s career, these injury issues tend to get worse well before they get better.
Jerry Blevins hasn’t been getting it done as a LOOGY with him sporting a 9.00 ERA, 2.200 WHIP, and a 9.0 BB/9. Worse yet, left-handed batters are hitting .400/.471/.533 off of him.
Ultimately, the Mets don’t NEED a left-handed pitcher in their rotation or their bullpen. However, they did enter this season looking to rely on these three pitchers contributing. It’s now May, and they’ve not given you anything yet.