1. Conforto’s Re-Emergence
After last year’s shoulder surgery, and how this season began, it was becoming increasingly fair to question if the Mets would ever see Michael Conforto again, at least the one who was an All-Star.
In the Month of July, Conforto hit .247/.371/.452 with three doubles, four homers, and 15 RBI. Part of those stats is a function of Conforto’s torrid hitting since the All-Star Break with him hitting .367/.444/.733 with two doubles, three homers, and nine RBI.
With each passing game, we move further away from this being a small sample size and closer and closer to Conforto returning to form. If he has indeed returned to form, we have at least a glimmer of legitimate hope for the 2019 Mets.
2. Wheeler Pitching Like an Ace
In July, Wheeler was 3-0 with a 3.13 ERA, 1.168 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. The three wins have come in his final three starts of the month marking the first time in his career he has won three consecutive starts.
Breaking the numbers down further, you get a sense of just how dominant he has been. As noted by MMO‘s Michael Mayer, since June 1, opposing batters have a 22 percent hard-hit rate against Wheeler, which is the best in the majors.
Moreover, as noted by Brooks Baseball, Wheeler has a career average fastball velocity of 95.97 MPH. This season, Wheeler has increased his fastball velocity to 96.44 MPH, which is the seventh best int he Majors.
Overall, Wheeler is throwing harder, and he is inducing weaker contact. Given how he has pitched, you can see why the Mets plan on keeping him and making another run at it with this rotation next season.
3. Mets Brought Up McNeil
In what promises to be a youth movement over the final two-plus months of the season, the Mets finally brought up Jeff McNeil. What’s better is after an extended time period of insisting he wasn’t a third baseman, the Mets would first slot him in over there in an effort to find him some playing time.
With McNeil, its’ been so far, so good. Over his six games, he is hitting .250/.455/.437. It’s not just the numbers. He’s shown he will be willing to drop down a bunt to get on base, and yesterday, he hit his first career home run.
1. Trade Deadline Bust
Certainly, you can see the wisdom in the Mets keeping their starting pitching intact. At a minimum, you want to have your new front office in place before making franchise-altering decisions. That’s all well and good, but that doesn’t explain the Mets thinking at the trade deadline.
Despite assurances that this was going to be the year the Mets finally ate money for better returns at the trade deadline, in the two deals the Mets did make, they did not absorb any salary. While this may not have been an issue with the Asdrubal Cabrera trade, it did seem to be an issue with the Jeurys Familia trade prompting Keith Law of ESPN and others to call for Major League Baseball to intervene.
But the Mets poor trade deadline goes well beyond the return for Familia.
At the moment, Jose Bautista, Jerry Blevins, Devin Mesoraco, and Jose Reyes are all over 30-years-old, and they are all impending free agents. None of them were moved, or released in the latter’s case, at the trade deadline.
Even better was the Mets adding Austin Jackson to the mix.
At the end of the season, all five players will be gone with the Mets getting nothing in return, not even salary relief. Given that being the case, and with teams at least purportedly interesting in Bautista, it would have been much more prudent to get what you could in return. By failing to do that, you are taking a gamble that the teams who may have interest don’t fall out of contention and remained interested.
That’s an unnecessary gamble.
2. DeGrom Is a Loser
Well, despite Jacob deGrom having a 1.74 ERA, 0.839 WHIP, and a 7.50 K/BB ratio in the Month of July, he was 0-2, which somehow dropped his season record to 5-6. The Mets futility when deGrom starts is starting to set all kinds of embarrassing records.
DeGrom was the first pitcher in Major League history to have over 20 starts with an ERA under 2.00 and under seven wins. At the rate things are going, you’d be hard-pressed to believe he is going to even reach seven wins before the season is over.
Overall, it is the Mets inability to support deGrom in his great starts which have effectively cost them even a chance at making a run at the postseason.
Consider for a moment, the Nationals are 16-6 whenever Max Scherzer takes the mound, and they are 37-47 whenever someone else takes the mound.
With respect to the Mets, they are 36-47 when someone other than deGrom starts, a half-game back of the Nationals pace. When deGrom takes, the mound, they are 8-13.
In the end, that’s why the Nationals are five games back of the division lead and the second Wild Card while the Mets are planning whether they should completely tear it down and start anew.
3. Mets Don’t Know What a Sunk Cost Is
The one thing which continues to be infuriating about this team is they continue to trot out over-priced and overpaid veterans at the expense of younger players who could provide better production. We saw it in April when an injured Jay Bruce was incapable of producing at the plate. While this was happening, the Mets would send Brandon Nimmo down to Triple-A to pave the way for a reliever to help buttress an overworked bullpen.
We are seeing it again with the Mets demoting Corey Oswalt so the team could active Jason Vargas from the disabled list. Vargas responded with a typical Vargas effort allowing three earned runs in 4.1 innings. What is amazing is that start actually lowered Vargas’ ERA to 8.36.
There are countless examples of the Mets doing this over the years, and time and again, it blows up in their faces.
Sure, the Mets are hardly the only team to fall into this trap, but based upon what we’ve heard, the Mets are one of the Major League teams with a higher level of interference in the day-to-day operations of the ballclub.
In the end, it’s hard to tell someone to take $39 million and park it on the bench. By the same token, it’s absurd for them to continue to trot out bad and under-producing players.