First Month of Mets' 2019 Season: Ups and Downs

            With April officially over, it means the first month of the 2019 Mets’ season is in the books and while things are always subject to change, so far, some things are going really well for the Mets and other things…not so well. We’re going to take a look at the ups and downs from the first month of the Mets’ 2019 season.

 

1.     Jeff McNeil – Up

Jeff McNeil has done one thing since coming to the big leagues last season and that’s hit the baseball. He was the Mets’ most consistent hitter towards the end of last season and that has carried over to this season. As of this writing, Jeff McNeil carries a batting average of .370, 1 Home run, 15 runs and 12 RBIs. He’s also got himself a .457 OBP, .500 Slugging Percentage and a .957 OPS. Numbers aside…he hits the baseball and helps his team win games. And that’s just discussing his offense, his defense at 3rd base has been spectacular, and he’s stopped a lot of balls from going down the baseline for a double. He shines while playing the infield but covering left field is still something he’s getting adjusted to. He gets the job done and it helps keep his bat in the lineup which is what’s important. Jeff McNeil in 2019, that’s an Up.

2.     Pitching – Down

Before the season began everyone (myself included) was sure that the Mets had the best starting rotation in baseball, and it was easy to see why. With the reigning Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom leading the pack, how could it go wrong?  Noah Syndergaard had finished the season on a high note throwing 2 complete games in the month of September, Zack Wheeler had a dominant 2nd half of the season, Steven Matz stayed healthy and was looking to continue on that and Jason Vargas was getting ready for his 1st full season as a Met. All the signs pointed to this rotation being unbeatable, but it hasn’t turned out that way. Jacob deGrom had 2 fantastic starts including a 14-strikeout game against the Marlins but hasn’t been able to find his footing since. Currently holding a 4.85 ERA, deGrom’s first rough outing came against the Minnesota Twins when he gave up 6 runs in 4 innings. The trouble continued when he gave up 3 against the Braves in 5 innings and most recently when he gave up 5 over 4 innings against the Brewers. As for Syndergaard, he’s currently holding a 6.35 ERA over his first 6 starts of the season. He’s given up runs in each of his starts and only given up less than 4 on one occasion. His control has been off, and he’s been walking a lot of guys and giving up crucial base hits. His last outing was with d’Arnaud behind the plate and there seemed to be a lack of communication between the two. With Travis off the team, maybe Syndergaard can link up better with Ramos or Nido going forward to get it back together. Wheeler has only had 1 bad outing this season, besides that he’s been good enough to keep his team in the game and give the bullpen a decent amount of rest. He’s gone 6 or more innings in 4 of his 6 starts. He has a 5.05 ERA over 6 starts and that was because of a game in which he gave up 4 runs over 6 innings. He settled down in said game, but it was enough to inflate his ERA a bit. Prior to that game he had himself a 7 inning, 11 strike out, 5 hits, 0 run outing where he also hit a double and a home run. With more outings similar to that, Wheeler can be on pace for his best season in a while. Matz has had a bit of an up and down season already. He had a 1.65 ERA going into his 4th start of the year but was obliterated by the Phillies. He didn’t record a single out but left with 8 runs (6 earned), a walked batter and 2 home runs. It was a really rough outing for Steven who didn’t get any breaks from his defense on top of some close calls from the umpire. He bounced back against the same team in his next outing allowing only 3 hits and 1 run over 6 innings. In his most recent outing, he held the Brewers scoreless through 7 and 2/3 outings until he left a slider hanging for Moustakas to drive out of the park for a 2-run homer. Other than that, one rough outing though, Steven has been a very effective pitcher. He’s had some issues with walks and keeping his pitch count down but being able to bounce back from that one rough outing shows a lot about him as he matures as a player. Then there’s the veteran left handed Jason Vargas. Vargas had a rough season in 2018 but was looking to turn it around this year and he’s arguably done so. It’s been a rollercoaster for Vargas. His first outing he went 5 innings, allowing 2 runs off 8 hits. He only struck out 2 and got helped out a lot from his defense to get the win. His next outing, he couldn’t make it out of the 2nd inning after getting hit for 4 runs. The next outing was even worse as he couldn’t even get out of the 1st inning. He only recorded 1 out while giving up 4 runs on 2 hits and 3 walks. After that the Mets started limiting his outings. He went 4 innings allowing only 1 run in his 4th start of the year and 4 and 2/3 in his 5th against the Phillies only giving up 1 run off 3 hits. His most recent outing was his best of the season going 5 and 1/3 innings giving up 1 run off 3 hits and striking out 5. His changeup was the best it’s been all year and he was able to keep his team in the game long enough for them to get a win. He has a 5.75 ERA on the year but if he can have some more outings like that, he can lower that and be a good 5th string starter. The starting rotation as a whole has a 5.08 ERA which is the 8th worst in the majors and far from what anyone expected out of them. The bullpen has been just as shaky with Edwin Diaz converting all of his saves but getting hit pretty hard in non-save situations. Familia has been a disaster despite a few innings of decent work but he just landed on the Injured List with a bone spur so who knows what his season looks like going forward. Gsellman has had his fair share of rough outings as well. Seth Lugo has turned it around after a few rough outings and has been one of the most reliable arms out of the Mets’ bullpen. The bullpen as a whole holds a 5.38 ERA which is the 3rd worst in the Majors. If the starters can turn things around and the Mets get some help from their bullpen, the pitching staff could reach its potential but for the time being, it’s a big down.  

3.     Pete Alonso – Up

First of all, bravo to the Mets for making the right move and putting Pete Alonso on the Opening Day roster. Pete has been a breath of fresh air for the Mets. It’s been a while since the Mets have had themselves a real dominant hitter playing 1st base. Lucas Duda comes to mind, but he was pretty streaky. So far, Alonso has been just what the doctor ordered for the Mets. With 106 at bats under his Major League belt, Alonso has 31 hits, 8 doubles, a triple, 9 home runs and 26 RBIs. He’s hit some of the most powerful home runs that the Mets have seen since the likes of Yoenis Cespedes in 2015. The fans have absolutely fallen in love with Alonso as well as he brings such a presence to the lineup. I heard someone say that Alonso can be the Mets’ version of Aaron Judge and while I think that’s a stretch because Aaron Judge’s first season was unreal, I get the comparison and I agree. What Alonso does at the plate is something the Mets need and while he’s been striking out a bit more recently, he’s still on pace to have a great rookie year as he currently has a .292 Batting Average. Defensively he’s no slouch either, he’s made 2 errors over 211.1 innings at 1st base with 159 put outs, 16 double plays and 12 assists over 173 chances. If he can stay healthy (and please, please, please let him stay healthy) Pete is on his way to having a Rookie of the Year type season. Regardless, he’s doing the Mets proud on 1st base and we should all look forward to seeing more years of him as a part of their lineup.

4.     Brandon Nimmo – Down (for now)

No part of me enjoys doing this. Brandon Nimmo in my opinion is the heart and soul the Mets and has more drive to play than most guys. Unfortunately, he’s been unable to do what he was doing last year and that’s hit the ball and get on base. He’s got a 2.33 Batting Average so far this season with 20 hits and 3 Home Runs over 86 At Bats. He’s been moved down the order a bit to see if it could make a difference and it somewhat has. The results have varied but when not batting leadoff he has been able to get more hits than he was when he was leading off. It’s hard to say what’s changed with Nimmo from now and then but in my opinion, I think he’s just relying too much on getting walked because of how often it happened last season. There have been many times he’s looked at strikes and then been down in the count and have to foul off some balls before eventually striking out. I’m sure it won’t last; he’s just going through a bit of a slump but I’m faithful to Brandon and think he’ll turn it around soon. He’s been sat a couple time with minor injuries, but he’s looked good in the field and his smile is still enough to pick up any team and their fan base. Give him another month and I’m sure he’ll be getting a big up next time around.

5.     Mickey Callaway – Down

Mickey Callaway so far this year has been making some very questionable decisions in regard to the bullpen. Let’s look at a few of them. Just last night he asked Familia for a 6-out save that wasn’t necessary. I understand wanting to save your bullpen, but Familia has never been a guy that can record more than 3-outs without issues. And even when it’s just 3-outs he has issues. After throwing so many pitches last night, he was on the Injured List by this afternoon. And he wasn’t able to close the game out either. He went 1 and 2/3 before giving up the tying runs to the Reds and sending the game into extra innings. That was the most baffling decision I’ve seen by Mickey but there are other candidates. Prior to this, he’s stated he will not bring in Edwin Diaz for more than a 3-out save. And I understand that to a certain extent. You don’t want to burn this guy’s arm out and have him turn into a Familia where he can’t record more than the required 3-outs. But Diaz has done it before in Seattle and been good at it. So, if the situation is severe enough (which it has been already) then you need to bring in the most powerful guy you have and that’s Diaz. At the same time, he’s brought in Diaz for non-save situations and it’s blown up in his face. Usually at a home game you bring in your closer for the 9th whether you’re winning or the game’s tied. But Diaz has already shown he doesn’t perform well in non-save situations and he was brought in the other night and gave up a game winning home run. That one may not be Mickey’s fault as much as it is just a fault in Diaz but it’s still something he should know about his guys; everyone has their quirks. There’s been a couple other times that Callaway has brought in questionable guys in situations…like Jacob Rhame who deserves an entire paragraph just for himself, but we won’t get into that. At the end of the day, Mickey has to be better with how he manages his bullpen or he’s going to burn them out or just give up games due to bad match ups and that’s something that cannot happen.

 

 

            With so much time left in the season, who knows what the future holds for this team and what I’ll be giving an up or down to in a month’s time. But we can only hope for the best and just keep on believing. Enjoy the season everybody.