The Mets began a 13-game stretch last week that included 10 games against the Phillies and Braves.
I believed the Mets would need to win at least six of those 10 games -- which would put them around 14-10 heading into their next homestand -- to avoid hitting the panic button too early.
To date, they have won just two of seven during this stretch, with three left against the Phillies, whom they will play at Citi Field after beginning a three-game series Friday against the Cardinals in St. Louis.
The Mets are now just 6-7 against Nationals, Braves and Phillies. Thankfully, they face these three teams 44 more times between now and the end of the season, meaning there is plenty of time to reverse course. Nevertheless, they are what they are. And if they lose both of these next two series, instead of being 14-10, they'll be 12-12 and at risk of dipping below .500 after a 5-1 start.
In reality, the division was always expected to be a horse race, as Michael Conforto reminded reporters at the end of his team's most recent series.
Traditionally, MLB teams wait until Memorial Day avoid taking full stock in their roster and results. To make those assessments positive, the Mets may want to soon begin improving on the following against their division rivals.
Despite the hype and strong first week of the season, the Mets have the worst ERA in the National League (see below) and the second-worst ERA in the NL for starting pitching.
Last year's NL Cy Young Award winner, Jacob deGrom, began the season strong, but has since allowed nine runs during his last nine innings, while citing strep throat as the culprit.
Noah Syndergaard's pitches have looked terrific, yet he's allowed 15 runs in 24 innings, during which he's striking out an average of roughly one batter each inning.
In his most recent start, Zack Wheeler walked seven batters to raise his WHIP to 1.57. Steven Matz had been pitching very well up until getting lit up in his last start.
Lastly, and almost comically, Jason Vargas has an embarrassing 2.80 WHIP and 14.20 ERA , which includes giving up four runs in one inning of mop-up duty during a blowout against the Twins.
It's fun to dream about Brodie Van Wagenen giving up a draft pick, exceeding the collective bargaining tax and signing free agent Dallas Keuchel. However, other teams are interested, including Keuchel's preferred Astros. Plus, even if signed today, Keuchel will need time to ramp up his throwing program and likely wouldn't be on a big-league mound for at least a few weeks, so he's hardly anyone's short-term solution to a struggling rotation.
If the rotation's ERA wasn't bad enough, the team's bullpen has a 5.61 ERA, which second-worst in the division behind the Nationals, whose relievers have a whopping 8.01 ERA. The thing is, most of the blame here can be put on Jeurys Familia, who has allowed four runs during his past five appearances.
Otherwise, Familia's bullpen mates have pitched well, specifically Edwin Diaz, who has picked up where he left off in 2018. Robert Gsellman and Justin Wilson have also looked strong. Similarly, Seth Lugo's numbers look bad mostly due to back-to-back bad outings earlier in the season; otherwise he's pitched well, allowing just one run in his last seven innings.
Familia, who dominated down the stretch for the A's last September, is signed to a three-year, $30 million deal. He has a history of experiencing a dead arm early each season, after which he typically rebounds and pitches well the remainder of the season. Hopefully, the same occurs this season. If it doesn't, the Mets will wish they scooped up reliever Craig Kimbrel, who is still a free agent, when they had the chance.
Thankfully, the Mets are scoring runs at roughly the same rate as the Phillies and Nationals. The good news for the Mets is these results have mostly been attained without much production from Robinson Cano and with Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie on the Injured List. Even better, Jeff McNeil could win a batting title; Conforto is living up to MVP expectations; and Pete Alonso is on track to be Rookie of the Year. Plus despite a rough start to the season, Brandon Nimmo has returned to being the player he was in 2018.
What's more, J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith have given a much-needed boost to the bench. In fact, having appeared at least once in every game, Smith is on pace to be a 3.5 WAR player with fewer than 200 at-bats.
The rotation has struggled, but I wonder if they're privately blaming their fielders for the poor results. Interestingly, Alonso, who was panned for his fielding in the minor leagues, has looked better than expected at first base. On the other hand, Davis, for all his power at the plate, has been a butcher at third, where McNeil has looked great.
Unfortunately, McNeil spends most of his time in left field, where he's not surprisingly struggled. Amed Rosario has made some sensational sliding stops and off-balance throws, but those are only good for the highlight reel. In reality, he has struggled and looking weaker than he did last season. Wilson Ramos has not lived up to expectations behind the plate, and at the same time, Juan Lagares has struggled on the opposite end of the field.
In time, I expect Ramos to be better, especially as he becomes more familiar with his staff and how to handle them when runners are on base. For now, though, Ramos is hurting more than he's helping.
The result is 13 errors for the entire roster, which is second worst in the NL East, as well as -22 defensive runs saved, which is last in the National League.
Despite all of the above, the Mets are in second place and 10-8. Also, there is still 89 percent of the season yet to play. And, this has all happened without significant contributions from Cano, Frazier and Lowrie. The Mets also have room in their budget to add players, be it Keuchel, Kimbrel or someone via trade.
"Every time we go out, we've got to bring our 'A' game," Conforto said this past weekend. "We've just got to do more. We've got to put the whole thing together."
Of course, the same can be said about the Phillies, Nationals and Braves, which is why the division will almost certainly continue to be a foot race through at least July and August.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!