The Mets had an inauspicious beginning to their second half, as they fell to the Atlanta Braves 7-5 on Friday night in a key six-game road series in which they will play three in Atlanta and three in Washington. With both of those teams ahead of the Mets in the NL East standings, this stretch could be a precursor of things to come
If the Mets want to keep up this feel-good story and stay in contention, they are going to have to keep getting career seasons from their stars while also making some other changes to keep them in the race.
So, here then are five key storylines to watch in the second half:
Get Bullpen Help
Enough cannot be said about the current putridness of the Mets’ bullpen. After the Mets’ bullpen allowed eight walks (after starter Chris Young issued three) in their loss to the Braves, the need for bullpen help cannot be overstated enough.
Enough is enough!
The Mets rank last in bullpen ERA (4.94), 28th in WHIP (1.48) and 27th in batting average against (.267).
The eventual return of Frank Francisco will help, but between him and Bobby Parnell, there is no other reliable arm to trust in the bullpen. Whether it be Jonathan Broxton, Huston Street (if he can even make amends with Bob Geren), or whoever, the Mets desperately need new blood in the pen.
Plain and simple, if the Mets were not getting the seasons they are getting from Dickey and Santana, the Mets would be nowhere near competitive.
Dickey has been the talk of baseball and is Cy Young-worthy with a 12-1 record, 2.40 ERA and 123 strikeouts. His knuckleball has continued to baffle hitters and his start on Saturday will be of utmost importance to set a tone for the second half. Considering his last start in Atlanta was abysmal-although that had more to do with the rain than anything-and the fact that the Mets lost Friday night, Dickey will have to come up big on Saturday and for the rest of the season for that matter.
Santana has forever immortalized himself in Mets’ lore for when he threw the Mets first ever no-hitter on June 1. However, it’s not been just that milestone that has defined Santana’s first half with the Mets. With a 6-5 record and 3.24 ERA, Santana has more than admirably gone beyond the call of duty. The key for Santana is to stay healthy and if he continues to go out there every fifth day, then the Mets will be in a good position to stay competitive.
David Wright has to maintain his MVP-caliber pace
David Wright has been a godsend to the Mets this year, as he has rediscovered his stroke while cutting down on the strikeouts en route to having perhaps his finest season ever with the Mets.
Wright is third in the NL in batting average (.351), second in on base percentage (.414) and third in OPS (1.004).
Wright has to just keep on doing what he has been doing all year and there is no reason to think he won’t otherwise.
Both Duda and Davis have had their streaks, but the two of them never seem to be clicking at the same time. The duo have both battled prolonged slumps.
While their combined power numbers (24 home runs and 23 doubles) have been decent, the prevailing thought was that we should have expected more. With Davis sporting a paltry .203 batting average and Duda not-so much better at .247, they have been more famine than they have best feast this year.
For the Mets to go somewhere this season, they are going to have to get consistent production from Duda and Davis in the middle of the order.
Effectively filling Dillon Gee’s spot in the rotation
Last but certainly not least, the Mets still have the uneasy task of replacing Dillon Gee in the rotation.
How they replace Gee will be of paramount importance. Will they look to the trade market and make a push for a pitcher like a Kevin Millwood?
Or will they relent and finally call up Matt Harvey?
The latter sentiment is on most Mets’ fans wish list and soon enough, Harvey should get the call.
After Miguel Batista issued four walks in his 1.1 innings on Friday night, he is proving in each outing that he is simply not the answer. Sure, he can be a nice stop-gap option, but if the Mets intend to stick around for the long haul neither he, Jeremy Hefner or Chris Schwinden is the answer.
Simply put, the Mets have to call up Harvey or make a trade if they wish to stay in contention.
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