Deeply Flawed Mets Done with Disastrous Road Trip
The Mets did not pitch in Colorado, they did not hit at all in Florida, and now a team that was four games over .500 just eight days ago, comes home a game under .500 at 16-17.
And, “bridge season” or not, the way their road trip spiraled downward is not acceptable, not when the National League East seems so balanced and so utterly up for grabs at the moment.
The Mets’ first three starters in Colorado—Bartolo Colon, Zack Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia—all seemed cowed by pitching in Coors Field to a Rockies team that, to be fair, has been murdering just about every pitcher they’ve faced in Denver this season. Nonetheless, that didn’t keep the increasingly impressive Dillon Gee from temporarily righting the ship with another brilliant outing on Sunday that salvaged the final game of the four-game set in Colorado.
The next night in Miami, Jon Niese matched Gee’s excellence with another superb outing of his own, lowering his ERA to 1.82 with seven shutout innings before the Mets turned the game over to 33-year-old Daisuke Matsuzaka, who spends the fifth inning of every single game throwing in the bullpen so that he can come into a game completely spent, sapped and ineffective and destroy a starting pitcher’s great handiwork—which is exactly what Dice-K did with remarkable promptness after relieving Niese.
This is not to be confused with the meltdown two nights earlier of 38-year-old closer of the day Kyle Farnsworth, who yielded a game-losing home run to pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson Saturday night in Colorado. Farnsworth also yielded the ninth-inning sacrifice fly on Wednesday that gave the Marlins the sweep of their three-game series with the Mets.
Matsuzaka, Farnsworth and 34-year-old Jose Valverde, who has also been found seriously wanting as a closer this season, all share in common an advanced age and declining stuff, each of them at least four or five years past their peak seasons in the major leagues.
The Mets knew Bobby Parnell, coming off back surgery, might be a health risk, but they entered the 2014 season without a Plan B in the bullpen and, almost six weeks after Parnell’s season ended after one opening day appearance, they still don’t have one. They have a lot of spare parts, such as older pitchers other teams didn’t want to whom the Mets are entrusting to try and get the most vital outs of a game.
And, with a chance to be relevant this season, the Mets raise the justifiable ire of their fans by refusing to promote any of the several talented young arms they have at Triple-A Las Vegas before mid-June because they are more concerned with the “free agent meter” beginning to run on those prospects than they are about finally trying to contend this season.
They waited until July 2012 to promote Matt Harvey, when he could have come up two months earlier when games still mattered, and they waited until late June to bring Zack Wheeler up last season. Protecting some of your most valuable commodities to keep them in your organization for an extra year is understandable to a point, but when that strategy continually sends the message, “Not this year. Just wait one more year for us,” to fans, it just exacerbates a public relations problem for a team that desperately needs to be relevant again sooner rather than later.