Sunday, May 22, 2016

N.Y. Mets: The Good, the Bad, and the Harvey

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

First Quarter Performance Report

NEW YORK METS: Injuries and Inconsistencies Holding the Amazin's Back From Achieving Greater Gains.

Entering their 43rd game of the season on Sunday, the Mets have veered left and are well into the first corner turn of the 2016 campaign, but, already are experiencing problems to many of their key horses.

After closing to within a nose of the N.L. East leaders, the Mets recently lost 2 of 3 against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field, in turn pushing them back into the pack with Philadelphia and Miami.

Thanks to a pair of victories over the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, the Mets improved to 9-11 in May, with nine games remaining in the month.  Sunday, the Mets will attempt a sweep of the Brewers, while entering the game 1 1/2 games out of first place.

The Outfield is Yielding a Mixed Crop

Yoenis Cespedes is admittedly surprised he's hit this many home runs this soon, noting he's been a notoriously better second half performer throughout his career.  That's a good thing I suppose..

After hitting an opposite field home run on Friday, then doubling in Saturday's victory over the Brewers, Michael Conforto seems to be snapping out of his first prolonged slump as a Met.

While Curtis Granderson has earned the benefit of the doubt, and has found his home run stroke of late, he is nonetheless batting below the Mendoza Line, and hitting just .134 in May.  His .292 OBP is no less problematic as the lead-off hitter.  Perhaps, drawing a pair of walks and going 1 for 3 Saturday against the Brewers is a sign of better things to come.

This Diamond is Getting Rough

Travis d'Arnaud's latest injury (apparently one with no resolution is sight), his short term future, as well as his long term future with the Mets are no more or less clear today, than they were upon his arrival from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Ideally, one player's injury is another player's opportunity.  But in the case of Kevin Plawecki, he's thus far failed to show the polish the Mets anticipated from their once highly regarded college amateur draft selection.  He's been the primary catcher for the Mets since April 24th, and in 20 starts since, he's slashing .206/.341, with four doubles and one home run.

Lucas Duda is hurt with one of those injuries that makes us all shake our heads at the Mets medical staff.  I mean, sometimes you just never know with these guys.  For the record, Lucas Duda is presently experiencing a lower back ailment.  It was reported Saturday his MRI came back clean.   Otherwise, little else explains his rather inconsequential 130 at-bats this season.  He's so far slashing just .231/.297/.431, with seven home runs and 19 RBI.  But, above all, his streaky nature continues boggling the minds of Mets fans.

With regards to second base and shortstop, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera have allowed Mets fans to repress their former situation.  By no means, though, have they achieved nirvana.
Walker's and Cabrera's play this month have cooled ... and that's putting it mildly.  After slashing .307/.337/.625 in April, Walker is presently slashing just .170/.267/.245 in May with only one double, and one home run.

To date, there's a case to be made Asdrubal Cabrera has been the most consistent Mets player this season.  While his performance dip from April into May has been less precipitous than Walker's, it has been no less noticeable.  After slashing .300/.364/.400 in April, he's presently operating at a .257/.307/.357 rate of productivity in May.  Cabrera's play at times this month even offered very brief, fleeting glimpses that somewhat confirmed less than complimentary off-season scouting reports.

Third baseman David Wright stroked a 9th inning, game winning RBI Saturday against the Brewers.   Unfortunately, there's no hiding the fact his spinal stenosis condition has compromised his game, both offensively and in the field, and particularly on throws to first.

Pen Full-o-Bulls

The strength of the 2016 New York Mets has easily been their bullpen: Hansel Robles, Addison Reed, Jerry Blevins, Jim Henderson, and Antonio Bastardo have combined to throw 83 innings, in which they've posted a combined 2.38 ERA, 1.074 WHiP, with an 11.2 K/9 average.

The closer?  Very simply, Jeurys Familia has turned himself around.  In April, he allowed 14 hits with nine strikeouts in just 12 innings pitched.  This month, he allowed just three hits and fanned seven in just 7.1 innings pitched.

The Four Hurlers of the Metropolis

With the exception of Thor, the rest of the Mets Marvels are presently performing like mere mortals at best.

Super Matz is still battling his body and lack of mound experience, while the deGrominator is still searching for his mojo.  Meanwhile, the Dark Knight continues to fall further into the abyss.

Noah Syndergaard, 23, has been nothing short of brilliant.  Still fresh from out-dueling Max Scherzer, Thor is 4-2 with a 2.19 ERA and 0.994 WHiP this season, with 65 strikeouts in 53.1 innings pitched.

He has now pitched the equivalent of a full season in his brief career.  In 32 combined starts, Noah owns a career 13-9 record, with a 2.97 ERA and 1.033 WHiP, and 231 strikeouts over 203.1 innings pitched.

The 800 lbs. gorilla in the locker room is no doubt Matt Harvey.   Said another way, the Real Deal is in real trouble.  After nine starts, he owns a 3-6 record, with a bloated 5.77 ERA and unsightly 1.655 WHiP.  His 8.0 K/9 average is at a career low, and he's issuing a full walk more per nine innings over last season.  Most alarming, Harvey owns a 12.1 H/9 average this season.

His last start against the Washington Nationals was particularly disturbing, not because he allowed nine runs (six earned) in only 2.2 innings pitched, but because I watched a pitcher simply going through the motions.

I've watched more strenuous efforts from coaches delivering batting practice.

Winning Cures All

Matt Harvey wants the ball again when the Mets vs. Nationals resumes again this Monday in Washington.  There's ongoing speculation the Mets might withhold him for a start, but that seems unlikely at this point.

After losing 2 of 3 against the Nationals at Citi Field, a proper response is in order.  Nothing short of a series win will satisfy.

This is not last season.  This team has expectations to fulfill.

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