By Paul DiSclafani:
On Wednesday evening, June 29th, the Nationals completed a sweep of the Mets in Washington to take a season high six game lead in the NL East. Licking their wounds and losers of four straight, the Mets and their fans opened one eye to peek at the remaining schedule before the All-Star break and saw an 11-game home stand on the horizon that included four games against the best team in the league, three more against the team directly behind them and four more against these same Nationals. I think the word most fans were looking for was, “Sheesh!”
With injuries beginning to mount as two of their star pitchers, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, announced that they are experiencing elbow discomfort and have bone chips in their elbows, the Mets got even more bad news. While Sundergaard and Matz would continue to pitch through the pain, Matt Harvey’s puzzling season came to an abrupt halt with something that nobody had ever heard of, “Thoracic Outlet Syndrome”.
Not enough for you? How about Yoenis Cespedes straining a quad making a diving catch in the outfield that will put him on the shelf for about a week and cost him his starting role in the All Star game?
Need more? How about Syndergaard throwing three consecutive fastballs that went from 96 to 94 to 91 and then having to come out of the game with “fatigue”? Not to worry, he has no pain in his shoulder or his bone chip filled elbow. “His arm went dead,” manager Terry Collins said. “He’s got a tired arm and (his) stuff went away”.
Where did it go?
His missing “stuff” cost Syndergaard his first ever All Star appearance. “It’s disappointing,” Syndergaard said about not being able to pitch in the All Star game, “But there will be a lot more. It’s a long season, you put a lot of wear and tear on your body, just right now I think I need a little break.”
Through all of this, the Mets had to play 11 games against the Cubs, Marlins and Nationals before they get five days off. And they won seven of them.
That’s right, seven of them. Shouldn’t Mets fans be happy?
They swept all four against the Cubs (hitting 11 home runs) and took two of three from the Marlins, then came back from a 6-0 deficit (the last game Harvey will pitch this season) to beat the Nationals, 9-7 and cut their lead in the NL East to just three games.
Then the bottom fell out when the team found out about Harvey’s TOS and both Cespedes and Syndergaard left the game within 10 minutes of each other. You think that had an effect on the last three games before the All Star break, at least mentally?
Give me a show of hands – how many Mets fans, on Thursday morning June 30th, would have taken a 4-7 record on this 11-game home stand? How about even 5-6? If you are still raising your hand when I get to 7-4, you are not being honest.
With all that has happened to this team in the last two weeks, they are exactly where they were 11 days ago. Granted, a home stand that started out 7-1 and finished with three straight stinkers is not giving you any confidence going into the All-Star break, but what’s the alternative?
Once again, the Nationals are tearing it up against the Mets (9-4 with 6 games left, all in September). However, if you take the seven games against the Mets (6-1) out of the equation for the Nats these last two weeks, they are just 5-10 in 15 other games that included the Padres (2-2), Dodgers (0-3), Brewers (1-3) and Reds (3-1).
Baseball is a funny game and it plays out over six months, not six days. Although six days may not be able to change the course of the season, but it can certainly change the mindset of the fan base. Think about where Mets fans (and the media) were coming into this home stand and where they were after sweeping the Cubs and taking two of three against the Marlins? Now just four games later, it’s gloom and doom again?
Welcome to baseball again, Mets fans. We don’t have a lot of experience with the ups and downs of a baseball season and maybe we panic and celebrate too quickly.
Let’s take a break this week and just try and catch our breath, shall we?
Jose Reyes hit two home runs in today’s 3-2 loss, Wilmer Flores has begun to heat up and we won’t have to see (or hear about) Daniel Murphy until football season starts. Maybe our expectations of dominance were a tad too high? Maybe our reliance on starting pitching without regard to offense will come back to bite us in the butt? We lost our Captain and third baseman for the season and no one has seen or heard from our first baseman in six weeks.
But we have an All Star closer and Bartolo Colon, the ageless wonder. Our pitching hasn’t been dominant, but they have been pretty darn good. And where would we be without Cabrera and Walker?
I don’t think any Mets fan (including this one) is “happy” with being just six games over .500 at 47-41 after getting to the World Series last year, but let’s be honest – with all the injuries, it could be much, much worse.
Take a deep breath and exhale with me. Then we’ll see where we are on August 1st…
Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com. “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.