Mets Heading for Another Depressing Finish
The Mets look poised to continue a rather remarkable, but certainly not enviable record this summer.
Since moving to Citi Field in 2009, the Mets have never had a winning month of August, and they have never had a winning month of September.
Much was made of the team’s 15-11 record in July this year, but the truth is the Mets have had several decent Julys over the past few years. But injuries and depressed offense invariably destroy the team’s aspirations for finishing with any momentum in the last third of the season.
Since the All-Star Break, the Mets are batting .209. A particular problem seems to be opposing pitchers with extremely fine control, like Madison Bumgarner of the Giants or Doug Fister of the Nationals. Those guys pump in first-pitch strike after first-pitch strike, and the too patient (read: passive) Mets batters never seem to adjust by swinging aggressively at the first pitch.
Conversely, opposing teams do adjust when they face the Mets. They seem to be figuring out that the best way to attack Jon Niese is precisely to aggressively approach Niese and swing at the first pitch. Niese, on the other hand, hasn’t seemed to counter-adjust, and he has pitched dreadfully in the second half—and his disinterest in basic fundamentals like covering first base on grounders to the right side is downright infuriating.
So, for that matter, was Eric Young’s lazy approach to a run-scoring single when he was playing left field against the Nationals early in Thursday’s 5-3 extra-inning loss.
In addition to these visible indicators of a team that seems about to quit on the season—indicators that never seem to be met with any accountability, by the way—there are other concerns, including several painful-to-watch daily at-bats by David Wright, who chases two-strike sliders with the same desperation that he seems to be chasing 2008; a continually unimpressive resume being put together by Travis d’Arnaud, who has been terrible both receiving pitches and attempting to throw out runners (not to mention a disappointment at bat); the mere presence of Chris Young on the roster; the continued presence of Matt den Dekker in Triple-A, where he remained mired while leading the league in batting; and Curtis Granderson’s season-long failures with runners in scoring position.
Bringing up Noah Syndergaard, returning Matt Harvey to active status in 2015 and continuing to celebrate the promising development of pitchers Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom—none of these things will fix what ails the Mets. All four of them, even pitching their best, might be doomed to a perpetual string of well-pitched games in which they get no decisions because the offense (and the offensive approach) remains so dysfunctional.
The team needs more than another “big bat.” They need a complete change in the miserable, all-too-predictable culture on the team.
Or else, we’re looking at another decade of interchangeable 74-88 seasons year after numbing year.
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