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Tuesday night continued a troubling trend for the Mets that, while in its infant stages, could ultimately cap their success as a ballclub. Noah Syndergaard flashed his electric 100-mph heater and baffling 93-mph slider en route to a 12-strikeout performance over seven one-run innings, but the Mets’ bats were invisible. After scoring a run on two hits in the first inning, New York would manage four more hits and lose at home, 2–1, to extend their losing streak to four.
The NL’s top offense from the second half of last year has suddenly lost its way, outputting just six runs and going just 3 for 19 with runners in scoring position over the span of its four-game skid. Sure, young phenom Jose Fernandez started for Miami on Tuesday, but three other guys not named Jose Fernandez (Jared Cosart, Jeremy Hellickson and Vince Velasquez) have also stymied the Mets’ lineup.
With a tweak in the middle infield, these are the same Mets that conquered the National League last season. These are the same home run-hitting, base-stealing, Cub-beating Mets. The same team that looked like a budding power, stacked with supremely-talented young arms, is now down in the dumps.
If New York is serious about contending this season, it will need to make use of the dozens and dozens of dominating pitching performances like Syndergaard’s on Tuesday that it is sure to get from its hellacious rotation.
Entering Tuesday, only the Angels and Twins had plated fewer runs than the Mets (17), and their wRC+, a stat that measures offensive effectiveness against a league average of 100, ranked dead last at 50. Leadoff man Curtis Granderson has slashed .074/.291/.111 to begin the season, catcher Travis d’Arnaud is off to a .105 start and new Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy (.500, 2 HR, 7 RBI) is outperforming his replacement in New York, Neil Walker (.214, HR, 5 RBI). Things have been ... well, a pie to the face.
Via ESPN New York:
“We’re fine, but when you come to the ballpark every day and keep getting hit with a pie in the face that you're not very good, you don’t like it,” manager Terry Collins said after Tuesday’s loss.
“We are good.”
Seven games won’t define the Mets’ season, and there are plenty of reasons to believe the team’s offense will match the production of its pitching staff. For one, David Wright (.273/.429/.409) and Yoenis Cespedes (.259/.333/.370) have been steady, though they haven’t exactly torn the cover off the ball. As a whole, too, it’s possible the team’s offense has run into some bad luck. Entering Tuesday, the Mets had batted just .240 on balls in play, close to 60 points below league average, yet nearly 35% of their batted balls had been hit hard, good for sixth in the league.
Perhaps the Mets are good, and a progression to the mean is on the horizon. Perhaps fans should reach for a glass of diet panic.
Then again, this is the Mets, and at 2–5, this is their worst seven-game start since 2010. Offense hasn’t been easy to come by, and a weekend series against Cody Anderson, Josh Tomlin and preseason Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber won’t help things. Panic will likely continue to set in until Thor takes the ball for his next scheduled start, in Philadelphia on April 18. Even then, as evidenced by Tuesday’s loss to Miami, it’s not a guarantee that a dominant starter going against a middling team will yield a positive result.