By Paul DiSclafani
Mets fans aren’t blind to what is happening. In the supposed words of Yogi Berra, “it gets late early out here”. We are only 55 games into the 162-game season, just about one-third of the way there, and at a season high of seven games under .500 (24-31), when is it no longer too early to worry? Even our beloved Mr. Met is having a breakdown.
Obviously the Spring Training plan of riding our starting pitching is shot to hell. The Jose Reyes resurgence has been a bust. Injuries to Lucas Duda and the sudden defensive liability of Asdrubal Cabrera have hastened the talk of promoting AAA rookies SS-Amed Rosario and 1B-Dominic Smith.
Three players that nobody was counting on in March have become their only reliable players – Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce and Zach Wheeler.
And the injuries to the top players have been devastating. The best offensive player on the roster, Yoenis Cespedes, has been out since April 28th with what was initially diagnosed as a “quad strain”. His 10-day stint on the DL has lasted 40 days. Two days later, the best starting pitcher on the roster, Noah Syndergaard, left his start against Washington and won’t be back until August – and that’s being optimistic, something the Mets fans have learned to never be.
9 days later, the best closer, Jeruys Familia, blew a save against the San Francisco Giants and he ended up on the DL and will be out for the season – and that’s optimistic.
In a period of two weeks, just six weeks into the season, the Mets lost players that would be ranked in the top 10 of their respective positions – offensive player, starting pitcher and closer. How do you recover from that? Who has the kind of depth to replace your top offensive player, your Ace starter and your closer, who saved over 100 games over the last two seasons?
How is this team not 17 games under .500? And the way the games have been going, why does it seems they should be 10 games over .500? The Mets bullpen has had 33 save opportunities in the first 55 games, but just 12 saves. Do we really need to rehash how overworked the bullpen has been because we can’t get the starting pitching to even come out of the dugout in the seventh inning?
It is still a little premature to write off the last 67% of the season, but there is a limit to our patience. I’d like to suggest that we wait until June 25th to officially give up on this season. You can wait another 20 or so games, can’t you?
Starting on Thursday (June 8), the Mets begin a stretch of playing 18 games in 17 consecutive days, including a West Coast road trip. Beginning on June 12, they will play 11 straight games against some of the top teams – the World Champion Cubs (3 games), our own Division Leading Washington Nationals (36-20) for four games and then travel to play the 35-24 LA Dodgers four times.
Is it realistic that by the time June 12 rolls along, the Mets are within striking distance of .500? Until then, they have two games against the Rangers and four against the Braves. 4-2 only gets them to 28-33 (five games below), so is 5-1 unreasonable to get them to 29-32 heading into that brutal 11-game stretch?
Do we shoot for breaking even against the best teams in the National League at 5-6 or 6-5? 6-5 gets us to 35-37 with 90 games left. I’ll do the math for you, that means a run of 11 wins in 17 games. Does this team have that in them?
During that time, the Mets are expected to get some pitching help as Stephen Matz and Seth Lugo return to make their season debuts. Cespedes may be back. Now that they have passed the ridiculous Rule 2 time-frame for rookies that establishes their first year of free-agent eligibility, maybe we see Rosario and/or Smith sooner rather than later.
Everyone likes to play amateur General Manager, so here’s my two cents:
- Give Lugo / Matz two starts and once we are comfortable, send Matt Harvey down to the minors to work out his issues. We can’t have the inconsistency or drama here at the major league level if we think we can contend. Wheeler, deGrom, Gsellman, Lugo, Matz are the starters.
- If you’re against sending Harvey down, send Gsellman to the bullpen to be our insurance policy for Matz/Lugo
- Release Reyes, promote Rosario and let Flores play 3B full time. That gives us a veteran switch-hitting bat off the bench, Cabrera that can spell Walker and/or Flores. Flores can also spell Duda at First.
- Cespedes to left, Conforto to center, Bruce stays in right. Granderson to the bench
- One more injury to Duda and you bring up Smith
- Stop overworking Edgin, Salas, Smoker, Reed in the bullpen. Have Gilmartin and Seawald be your long relievers. Send Robles and Harvey down. We already know that Plawecki can pitch in a blowout.
- Stop making pitch counts the reason to take pitchers out of a game and use your head. Let pitchers start the next inning, but be ready if they falter.
I’m rooting for them, are you? If not, do I really have to start paying attention to what is going on in the JETS training Camp?