Buy or Sell? How Making One Of These Choices Can Sway An Up And Down Season For The New York Mets
When the New York Mets were swept out of Miami in embarrassing fashion – being shut out in two of the three games, and their ace being lit up in the first game – it felt like the sky was falling. Fans thought it would be a matter of weeks, if not days, until Mickey Callaway was shown the door.
However, since that horrendous weekend in May, the Mets immediately went on to sweep the Nationals in four games and take two of three from Detroit. That even their record at 26-26. The string of games that has followed has been unspectacular to say the least. After beating the Yankees in the nightcap of the doubleheader, torching James Paxton for six earned runs, the Mets find themselves under .500 once more. They have gone 7-8 in the 15 games since clawing back to .500.
There is, however, some hope for the Mets this next series. They play the St. Louis Cardinals next, and the winning percentages of those games, according to Fangraphs, is as follows: 57.8%, 52.3%, 59.8%, and 56%. While the game isn’t played on paper, the Mets this season, some hiccups aside, have done a very good job at playing to expectations in the statistical sense. Marlins aside, the Mets have won most games where they have a 52% winning expectancy or higher. Furthermore, in this most recent Subway Series, they had winning percentages of 43.7% and 32.8%. They won the game with the 32.8% winning expectancy.
Now, the bad news.
After the Mets finish hosting St. Louis, they have an arduous road trip, going to Atlanta, Chicago, and Philadelphia. They are expected to match up with the likes of Mike Soroka, Julio Teheran, Max Fried, Aaron Nola, Cole Hamels and Kyle Hendricks. Not only are they facing very good teams, they are lining up with their best pitchers. In that 11-game road trip, they have a win expectancy above 50% just twice, and a win expectancy of 43% or lower four times. It’s possible you’ll see another rough stretch, or a “when is Callaway leaving?” uproar.
Here’s the thing, though: the bullpen, as abysmal as it’s been for a large part of the year, has been getting a boost lately with Seth Lugo. Another acquisition is something they should really think about, but it’s an encouraging sign. Noah Syndergaard and Jacob DeGrom have looked like themselves lately, and while an up and down season isn’t something you’d like from two aces, their mid-3 FIP’s dictate that they’ve been pitching better than their overall numbers would suggest. Jason Vargas is having a resurgent year after the failure that was 2018, and Wheeler is still giving them length in games.
The likes of McNeil, Alonso, and other young, exciting players are beginning to look better at the plate, and it may just be a matter of time before their hitting, which has already been improving, goes on an extended streak. This isn’t to say the Mets will be fine, however.
If you’re reading this and can’t figure out if this is a positive or a negative view on the Mets, good. I’ve been researching the Mets and why their struggles have happened at different points in the season. They’ll get good starts but won’t hit. They’ll hit, and their starters will get obliterated. They put runs on the board and their starters give them some length. That suspect bullpen rears its ugly head almost every time. It’s a matter of putting it all together. After the media said that the players aren’t playing for Callaway and some suggested Joe Girardi might be the answer, the Mets won six of seven to claw back to .500. Sure, we outlined what they did next. Based on lineups, pitching matchups, and talent level, however, they’re playing how they should be.
The front office can take the next step and acquire another bullpen arm. It would greatly increase their chances of closing games out on a consistent basis. If Syndergaard and DeGrom can consistently pitch to their potential, they have a real shot of winning two games per series if they’re being lined up back to back. Vargas could continue his comeback year.
It starts with consistency. Consistency by the players, and for once, consistency by their front office to show their fans and their players that they’re interested in winning and will do what it takes to do so. The Mets sit 5.5 games behind first, and the Nationals, who sit five games under .500 themselves, have almost double the playoff probability the Mets do.
This isn’t a manager situation. This is the analysis of a team that isn’t bad, isn’t good and isn’t anything to write home about. If the Mets are serious about being contenders at the deadline, they’ll be buyers. If they feel they could retool, stock up their farm system with young, top-level prospects, they’ll sell, and they’ll sell valuable assets for an even more valuable haul. Yes, that could include some talks with the Yankees). The problem with the Mets, however, if history is any indication, is that they won’t sell. They won’t buy. They’ll stay put, show signs of brilliance, and then fade away, leaving fans as to why a team that always shows these flashes of potential never really gets it going.
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