New York Mets have been decimated by injuries
Every position player – with the exception of Dom Smith – has been on the IL. The pitching staff, which was supposed to be the weakness of this team, was actually carrying the team for a while…for a while…until it, too, was decimated by injury. Jacob deGrom was having a season for eternity and was also smitten. It was just not to be. The offense has been dreadful. The pitching staff somewhat overachieved…for a while anyway.
Injuries happen. So far, 61 individuals have suited up this season, a record for this team. The Syracuse Shuttle and the new “taxi squad" are racking up the mileage. We’ve seen players wearing numbers more suited for football linemen and tight ends.
How’s this for fielding a team?
C – Chance Cisco
1B – Patrick Mazeika
2B – Wilfredo Tovar
SS – Jake Hagar
3B – Travis Blankenhorn
LF – Mason Williams
CF – Johneshwy Fargas
RF – Khalil Lee
P – Robert Stock
Who are these guys? Spring training ended in March and, yet, we got to see them out there and, at least, the team was still winning, on some level, and maintaining their hold on first place. Hope was that once the “regulars” returned that the team would operate at full throttle, the offense would somehow explode, and the Mets would go on a run like they did in 1973 and 2015…coming back from the tarpits and excite everyone in dramatic fashion. Alas, that ain’t going to happen. Not this year.
The team has been dreadful. Before the injuries…and then after the return of the “regulars.” Whether it’s the plan of management…the sabermetrics department…the coaching staff…this group of talented players are just having an awful year. And that can happen. But it literally makes me laugh when people on social media start playing manager and coming up with different lineups. You know what? If players aren’t hitting, they aren’t hitting. It won’t matter WHAT spot you are batting. After the first inning, it doesn’t matter.
We were all fooled. But we were not duped. New owner Steve Cohen said that there was a plan…a three-year plan. He JUST took over before the beginning of spring training and still had to clean up multiple messes left over from the previous regime. And still, the Mets managed to take off and spend most of the season close to, or in, first place.
Most of the season, the Mets have been hovering around six or seven games above the .500 mark. What was thought to be a powerhouse division, has been, for the most part, a dud. And the Mets were able to take advantage of the ineptitude around them, and in lieu of some ineptitude of their own, and somehow, some way, managed to spend most of the season, since April 13, in first place.
It was an illusion. The team was in first place on April 30 and they were two games under…UNDER…the .500 mark. The Mets picked it up in May and ended that month with a five-game winning streak. And after winning their third consecutive game on June 16, the Mets were at 35-25, their high water mark of the season, and five games in front in the division.
The bottom began to fall out long before the team’s fateful trip to Miami and Philadelphia. Because after hitting that high point, the Mets would hold onto first place but never again get to 10 games over the .500 mark. Twice they got to eight games over, but kept slipping back to seven, then six. So they were not even playing .500 ball from that point on.
The Mets finally fell out of first place on Aug 6. After a three-game winning streak against the Nats, the slide continued as they lost the next five straight and eight of nine games.
So let’s bring on the first-place San Francisco Giants. The Giants embarrassed the Mets in the first game of the series…as Francisco Lindor returned to start for the first time alongside of Javy Baez. It didn’t do a damn thing. A blowout ensued and the offense was rendered useless.
So then there is Game 2, which showed exactly why the Giants are in first place, and the Mets, well, they are slowing heading in the opposite direction.
Taijuan Walker was pitching an excellent game. He hadn’t allowed a baserunner until Kris Bryant pummeled one over the left centerfield fence. That was all he allowed for six innings. The Mets, meanwhile, had numerous baserunners and multiple opportunities against arch nemesis Johnny Cueto. But although they were able to scratch out two runs (one unearned on a Bryant throwing error), they just couldn’t put the game away.
Aside from the Bryant bomb, Walker was tantalizing. He was having probably his best game of the season and was doing it very economically with very few pitches. But then, to start the seventh inning, Jonathan Villar booted an easy grounder to third to give the Giants a lead-off baserunner. The next batter hit a lazy fly ball toward right centerfield, right into the Bermuda Triangle behind second baseman Jeff McNeil and in front of Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto. McNeil had taken a bad angle at it from the start and Conforto made a gallant attempt at a diving catch but was just short of catching it. It was definitely a catchable ball, which should have been caught by McNeil. So instead of two outs and nobody on base, the Giants had two on and nobody out.
Luis Rojas decides to bring in lefty Aaron Loup to face MVP candidate and lefty swinging Brandon Crawford. Now…the irony of this is…in Howie Rose’s pre-game analysis for the Citifield crowd, he had pointed out that Loup was having an outstanding season with a 1.08 ERA and hadn’t allowed an extra base hit to a lefty hitter all season long. So, wouldn’t ya know it? First pitch…bang! A ringing double down the rightfield line to score the two runners…turning a 2-1 Mets lead into a 3-2 deficit.
And it wasn’t like the Mets didn’t have any chances. The Mets were able to mount a threat in the bottom of the ninth inning. They were given a gift when, with a runner on first base, Brandon Drury hit a lazy fly ball to centerfield. The two Giants outfielders converged on it, collided, and dropped the ball. Dropped the ball. That put runners on first and second with one out. Lindor came to the plate and, on the very first pitch, hit a weak pop up to the first baseman. The guy was booed unmercifully.
Next up was Nimmo. He fought off pitch after pitch…just trying to get on base somehow, some way. And he managed to work out a walk. That brought to the plate the very match up every Mets fan wanted to see in that situation – Pete Alonso up against a lefty with the bases loaded.
But the Giants are in first place for a reason. And the Mets, well, they are sinking for a reason. You guessed it…Alonso after fighting off some tough pitches…hit a hump back liner for an easy out ending the “threat.”
The game, the way it was played, the way everything happened, sums up the 2021 season perfectly. And the Mets hit their low point of the season, four games under .500 for the first time.
And that’s why I can’t even GIVE AWAY two tickets. The team is frustrating and just downright boring right now. That’s why I find myself binge-watching Schitt’s Creek and waiting for the next episode of 90-day Fiance. There’s definitely more fireworks there