The New York Mets, while still behind every other team in terms of game played, are roughly twenty games into the 2021 season. The team’s flaws have been fully discovered, but on the bright side, there are some good things that can be taken from the team’s overall performance so far.
Starting off on the positive side, the Mets starting rotation is almost as good as advertised. Aside from Joey Lucchesi, who has only made two starts, the top four starters have been on a roll. deGrom, Stroman, Walker and Peterson have all been playing really well so far this season. deGrom striking out 59 batters in his five starts is truly remarkable. Stroman, despite having a rough outing last Saturday, has looked really good. Plus, the fact that he is going deep into games without throwing a single pitch last season is a great sign. Walker and Peterson both were not spectacular in Chicago last week, but other than that they have been giving the Mets quality innings. On Sunday, Walker shutout a good Washington Nationals lineup, while this past Tuesday Peterson only let up two runs to a stacked Red Sox team. The fact that the Mets are getting great play from the bottom of the rotation is something that will eventually lead to some wins. Plus, the fact that the Mets have played less games than every other team means that Carrasco and Syndergaard will miss less games than expected when they return in the next couple of weeks.
There are also some positives within the lineup and the bullpen. JD Davis, Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso are all off to hot starts. Davis, has been on fire at the plate since he returned from his short stint on the IL a couple of weeks ago. Alonso is quietly getting back to his 2019 form, and Nimmo is getting on base almost every game. He is putting the Mets in prime position to score a run every time he is on base, but he is not crossing home plate often. But these three guys have been the ones that have kept the lineup afloat these last few weeks.
The bullpen has also had some sparks. Edwin Diaz is improving, which is amazing news. Miguel Castro has been really solid day in and day out. Trevor May and Aaron Loup are both doing better, after their troubles that they faced early on in the year. The success of the bullpen is massive for the Mets to actually move up in the standings, and most of the guys playing well is a positive.
Now to the not so good things, in other words the negatives. Beginning with the lineup, as I mentioned earlier, only three guys in the lineup have been doing okay, and that means the rest of the lineup is not doing so well. Both Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil are off to really slow starts. Lindor has had some spectacular defensive plays, but his bat has not been providing much to an already struggling lineup. While McNeil, who I thought was going to have a big year, has been towards the bottom of the lineup and his batting average has been under .200 for a big chunk of the season. Guys like Michael Conforto and Dom Smith also have to get it going. They are both getting at bats in the middle of the lineup and have not been able to get on base much.
But with all of this the biggest problem with the lineup in general is that they are absolutely atrocious when it comes to scoring runners in scoring position. Right now the lineup as a whole is hitting around .190 when there is a man at second or third, which is unsurprisingly last in the entire league. Leaving multiple men on base every single game is a recipe for disaster, meaning the recipe for losing a baseball game. To this point, the Mets base-stealing game is completely non-existent. Opposing teams have been crushing the Mets with base-stealing. Teams are running on the Mets constantly, but the inability of this team to respond to that is killing them as well. The lineup as a whole has the potential to be one of the best in the entire league, but right now they have been hitting closer to a bottom team opposed to the upper echelon clubs.
Lastly, the managing by Luis Rojas and staff is still something that has to improve in order for this to get anywhere. The lineup is being switched everyday and when one order works, Rojas still switches the next day. Last week Alonso was put into the #2 spot and had a spectacular day, then the next day he was back to hitting cleanup. I think that if the lineup stays consistent for a couple of days, then a lot of guys are going to improve and get into a rhythm.
As you could probably tell the negatives clearly outweigh the positives here. Playing .500 baseball is not great, and the fact that the Braves have been playing poorly and the Mets are not capitalizing, it is a problem. Eventually the other teams in the division are going to start winning a little bit, and in order for the Mets to kind of stay afloat in the standings, they need to improve drastically as a team.