The New York Mets have played their final game in April, and it’s been quite the month for the Metropolitans. The Mets finished April with a 17-9 record, which is a great sign for this club, considering they’ve had one of the more challenging schedules in the league. Regardless of schedule toughness, 17-9 is nothing to shake a stick at. For comparison’s sake, the 2015 National League Champions were 15-8 as they entered the lusty month of May. That team went to the World Series, so this 2018 team should… try to not duplicate that team’s May/June records.
The 2015 Mets went 13-15 and 12-15 through the 2nd and 3rd months, or for a current example, they were the 2018 Washington Nationals. This Mets squad is performing at a high level, even if getting curb-stomped by the San Diego Padres feels like we’re absolute garbage. Contrary to that trash feeling, this Mets team doesn’t seem poised for a collapse… but then again, they are the Mets.
Around this time last year, I wrote a piece called Panic Citi Can Wait. In that piece, I defended Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson’s decisions and applauded them for calling out the team for their apathy. I believe the quote was: “It’s now time to go out and grind as we did last year. It’s still April, I understand that also, but we can no longer sit back and say, ‘Hey, look, you know, it’s ugly weather, we’ve got some guys hurt.’ No one cares.’ The Braves don’t care, the Nationals don’t care, you guys don’t care. The only thing that matters are the guys in that room. That’s the product. They’ve got to care, they’ve got to go out and give us some energy and get this thing going and I truly believe we can do it.“
I’m starting to think that the guys in that room care. Why? Because they’re having fun and they’re winning baseball games.
I’d like to use the Nationals as an example, if I may. The mess that’s been taking place in Washington is of their own creation. The Nats roster has been built to succeed only when every player is firing on all cylinders, much like they were all of last year. However, when that doesn’t happen, the team falls apart. It’s a grain of sand in a microchip, once one player fails to produce, the team collapses in spectacular fashion. One player (Bryce Harper) cannot carry them to the playoffs.
That’s the Washington Nationals. The New York Mets on the other hand, seem to rise to the occasion when a teammate slumps.
The Bats… They Work
If you had told me that Asdrubal Cabrera would be leading the team in hits by double digits by the end of the month, I would have laughed in your face until the All-Star break. This is our actual reality, and he has also only struck out 16 times, which is bananas. Go Asdrubal!
When have the Mets had such depth in the outfield? Remember the days of John Mayberry, Jr., Alejandro de Aza, and even Lucas Duda? There was a time this year when Wilmer Flores was taking outfield reps, just in case he was needed. Now it seems like the Mets are brimming with options in the outfield, allowing them to rest their stars and give Nimmo and Lagares some solid looks and some legitimate starts.
In fact, the Mets have been able to use their depth everywhere. Every day it seems we get a new look at the Mets, allowing players to get regular rest without slowing their rolls. It’s this kind of roster that keeps a team moving forward, rather than stalling out. The lineup construction has also been on point. The Mets have 4 layers with 20+ hits this season, and they are scattered throughout the lineup. With guys hitting on a regular basis, being reliable at the plate, the Mets can set themselves up to create opportunities and score runs. The Mets are learning from the 2015 Kansas City Royals and are moving the line regularly.
All in all, the Mets are helping themselves out at the plate. Even guys who have seen better times at the dish are still getting quality ABs. Adrian Gonzalez, Michael Conforto, and Wilmer Flores have averages in the cellar, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous at the plate. A-Gon is tied for 2nd on the team in RBIs. Conforto leads the team in intentional walks, and while this may not seem like a notable stat, it is. Conforto’s .222 average and 6 RBIs on the season might not look scary, but he’s still terrifying opponents.
Humming On Pitch
On the Hill, the pitching has had its moments of glory and moments of shame. As advertised, Syndergaard and deGrom have been insane this year. Syndergaard has relied less on his fastball and is using his secondary pitches get similar results. It seems that harnessing his velocity has also allowed him to use its absence as a weapon.
deGrom has been masterful this season, coming off three starts where he averaged 10 Ks a game. In fact, in his last 14 innings pitched, Jake has given up 0 runs. ZERO. RUNS. Yet on several occasions, the Mets bullpen has let him down.
Speaking of letdowns, Matt Harvey’s having a great contract year, huh? After being relegated to the bullpen after a string of horrendous starts, Harvey has all but shut out the media and his team. I mean, this is the guy who wanted to throw a complete game in the World Series three years ago. Now he’s the guy who knows 100% that Franchy Cordero launched a bomb off his fastball, the second it leaves the bat. Harvey has lost it, and he better hope he finds it soon, or that big payday gets less and less likely.
If there’s a problem with the Mets not named Matt Harvey, it’s their bullpen. While there isn’t a distinct issue with them, the problem might be their lack of consistency. Two very clear-cut examples of this are Robert Gsellman and Jeurys Familia. Take a look at this tweet:
Gsellman And Familia’s statlines are virtually identical so far this year
Gsellman: 14IP 1.93 ERA 1.210 WHIP 19K, 6BB 3 blown saves
Familia: 14IP 1.93 ERA 1.140 WHIP 18K, 6BB, 3 blown saves
These are both objectively excellent. Mets fans want one of these 2 shot into the sun
— Stengel’s (@stengelsghost) April 27, 2018
The biggest difference is their spot on the roster and their spot in games. Familia has a history of cracking under pressure, and while he may have lockdown stuff, there’s always a hint that he might not have it. Gsellman is lucky enough to be in a position where he can be bailed out. Familia doesn’t have that luxury.
So after April, how should you feel about the 2018 New York Mets? You should feel pretty good about them for one simple reason: it feels like they should be worse.
Let’s talk about the Nationals again, a team that on paper should be 20-6. The Nationals are living in a nightmare where they can’t put together a winning team on a daily basis, despite being the perennial favorites to win the NL East. Same with the Dodgers out in LA. On paper they should be running over everybody, in reality, they are struggling to find their rhythm.
This Mets team is not 17-9 on paper. In fact, they are 14-12, according to the Pythagorean W-L, created by Bill James to determine how lucky a team is.
The Mets have been lucky so far in 2018, but they are barely reaching their full potential. And when they hit their stride, the rest of the league better watch out.