By Michael Porter
The New York Mets were one of baseball’s most active teams during an otherwise mediocre 2020-21 MLB offseason. Despite acquiring all-world shortstop Francisco Lindor, completely overhauling their front office and even appointing baseball’s wealthiest fan as their new owner, the early results have been underwhelming for the 2-3 ballclub.
It is important to note that the Mets have been victimized by (an MLB high) five game cancellations over the course of the season’s first week, and the scheduling dilemmas have certainly prevented them from building any kind of momentum. With that said, the club has taken the field for a total of five contests and this writer (and lifelong fan) believes that while there is tremendous potential, familiar mistakes could once again prove to be their biggest obstacle.
The Mets, who remarkably led the MLB in team batting average during a 26-34 2020 campaign, clearly struggled with converting baserunners into runs. This same inability to score has been on full display during the team’s first set of games as the Mets are just 6-41 (.143 batting average) with runners in scoring position in 2021. With 41 scoring opportunities in just five games, one could argue that the team should currently boast a 5-0 record, however untimely strikeouts and ground balls have once again been a frequent occurrence.
The Mets’ bullpen woes, which has been a glaring issue for years, have seemingly followed them into 2021. The club appeared to have addressed their bullpen needs during the winter as both Aaron Loup and Trevor May agreed to bring their lengthy track records of success to Queens. While these additions looked strong on paper, both pitchers have been largely ineffective during their initial week in blue and orange. Neither reliever has managed to escape an inning untouched.
Yet another recurring detriment that this ballclub seemingly self-imposes each year is their inability to win during Jacob DeGrom’s otherworldly outings. DeGrom, who is baseball’s undisputed number-one pitcher, has been his usual brilliant self during his initial two 2021 starts. The two-time Cy Young Award winner has allowed just one run over his first 14 innings of work which is complimented by his pristine 21:2 strikeout to walk ratio. Despite continuing his run of brilliance, the right-hander finds himself with an uninspiring 0-1 record.
While it is obviously too early in the season to dub the Mets a “lost cause,” there is plenty of reason for concern. These facts are nothing new, as these same insufficiencies have plagued this ballclub for years. With plenty of baseball left to be played and an abundance of talent on the roster, there is certainly hope for this team, however if the Mets are unable to right the ship sooner rather than later, they will once again find themselves buried in the uber-competitive National League East division.