Revisiting the Mets’ preseason trouble areas after five games

After five games, the Mets are 2-3 and we already have people fretting about the offense, even though the pitching has been dismal in two of the three setbacks. But if we looked at what we thought might be the trouble areas right before the first pitch of the season, we see that most of them have been checked off in a positive manner here in the early going.

It’s impossible to list these in order of importance after the fact, so here they are in no particular order.

1. Can Jay Bruce and Lucas Duda, two guys with similar offensive profiles, bounce back?
Of the nine guys with at least 10 PA, Bruce and Duda have the top two OPS marks on the team, hitting .929 and .786, respectively. They both have identical .500 SLG marks and Bruce leads the team with 5 BB while Duda’s 4 RBIs paces the club. Duda has 3 PA against a LHP and has a double and a homer.

2. How will the Mets handle the early loss of Jeurys Familia?
The relievers have been an issue (4.33 ERA and a 1.869 WHIP) but that has more to do with the annual failure of using Rafael Montero in the bullpen and a brutal MLB debut for Paul Sewald than the back end melting down without Familia. Addison Reed, Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins have combined for 7.1 scoreless innings, with 2 BB and 11 Ks. Hansel Robles is the only one who was counted on to play a meaningful role all season who has struggled. And Josh Edgin has been good, too.

3. Will Matt Harvey have a successful comeback from TO surgery?
In his first outing, Harvey went 6.2 IP, further than any other starter, and needed only 77 pitches. He allowed just three hits and didn’t walk a batter. Ideally, we would have seen a few more strikeouts than the four he notched. And two home runs was not good, either, but at least they were solo shots. But every single one of us would sign up for a full season of Harvey with a 2.70 ERA.

4. Will the Mets flounder with RISP like they did the majority of 2016?
The Mets’ offense has been nothing to write home about but when they get runners in scoring position, they’re not having the struggles of a season ago. Their .797 OPS ranks 12th in the majors and is .219 points above their overall OPS. The issue is they’re not getting enough chances, as their 30 PA rank 28th in the majors and last in the National League.

5. Can Travis d’Arnaud be an asset on either offense or defense?
He has just a .633 OPS but that’s above the team mark of .578 so he’s not the biggest problem at the plate. In the field, he’s played in four games and hasn’t allowed a passed ball and the other team has been successful on its only stolen base attempt. He was not in the lineup of Opening Day when Noah Syndergaard started.

6. What kind of production will they get from third base?
Third basemen for the Mets have amassed 23 PA and have a .045/.087/.045 line for a miserable .132 OPS. And since the third baseman has been the leadoff hitter in four of the five games so far, this has been a double whammy.

Other question marks that have been answered favorably in the early going include Curtis Granderson’s defense in center field, Jacob deGrom’s return to the mound and the team’s performance versus lefties. Question marks that have not turned out so well so far include Zack Wheeler being able to be effective, production from the leadoff spot and non-homer offense.

The Mets lost one game because they couldn’t score and two others because they didn’t score and the pitching was lousy. The offense has mustered just 16 runs, which ranks 13th in the 15-team NL. But for the most part, the offense has been the result of worse-than-expected production from guys counted on to perform, rather than question marks failing. If you tell me that Bruce and Duda are going to be productive, I’ll take my chances with this offense.

As for the pitching, the starters have a 3.25 ERA and a 0.940 WHIP. They just need to go a little deeper in the games, which is typical for the first week of the season.

No one should be happy about a 2-3 record. But recall that they started last year 2-5 after dropping the first two games at home to the Marlins and then went 13-2 the rest of the month. That streak started with a win against Miami in the third game of the series. Let’s hope history can repeat itself. And that Noah Syndergaard’s blister is not an issue going forward.

11 comments for “Revisiting the Mets’ preseason trouble areas after five games

  1. Chris F
    April 9, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Is the past record from a different year relevant to this team this season? What we do know is that right now this team is not hitting, and not scoring runs. The broken record of bottom of the league in virtually all offensive categories is tiring. Its the weather, its an early season trend, its….whatever. What it is, is bad baseball.

    • April 9, 2017 at 10:24 am

      To the mayor of Panic City, nothing that could possibly be looked at with the slightest hint of optimism is ever relevant.

      • Chris F
        April 9, 2017 at 10:58 am

        There is little optimism for the offense based on what weve seen, to wit:

        1. Watching first strike center cut fastballs, so that we sit 0-1, a lot.
        2. weak approach at the plate, lots of bad swings
        3. warning track (or shorter) fly balls
        4. a lack of actual ABs leading to a lack of total bases, and of course runs
        5. our leadoff guy is batting .053, and getting on base at a 10% clip

        Its early in the season. Its cold. All true. I just hope we dont see 4 months of this.

        • April 9, 2017 at 11:17 am

          We saw three months of it last season, so I guess it’s not completely unreasonable to fret about seeing four months of it this year.

          It’s just too bad that your panic is always in midseason form. Too bad it can’t take six weeks to round into such great shape.

          • Chris F
            April 9, 2017 at 11:46 am

            I get that…but I see the game daily, and react at the same pace. Any month long stretches of this is unacceptable in my eyes. Weve seen runs being manufactured all kinds of ways so far this year alone. Weve played 48 innings of baseball or thereabouts and put runs on the board in 8 innings or so? We talk about the same offensive woes month after month. I guess with the same team, its hard to imagine differently.

            Anyway, I predicted 91 +/-2 wins and not changing that because of the first 5 games.

  2. Jimmy P
    April 9, 2017 at 11:08 am

    It’s a poorly constructed offensive unit and it will be uneven & unreliable all season. Not horrendous, but not particularly good. They lost Juan Lagares and it’s almost a mortal blow. Leading off Curtis Granderson vs. a LHP is like waving a white flag — and he’s the best option.

    I’ve been saying that I think Jose Reyes will fall off a cliff this season. Just a gut feeling. Mets can’t lean on him too hard. The “no speed, no table setter” offense is a problem. This isn’t a new issue or a spring training issue. And I have never for one second seen RISP as anything other than a fluke, a result of the overall composition of the offense — they don’t, generally, get a lot of hits. It’s not a cause of the problems, it’s a product.

    The pen is good, not great, but the lack of quality depth shouldn’t be a huge problem with the starters in place.

    The outfield defense is poor in CF and RF. Three times I’ve seen doubles go for triples. I think we’re going to lead the league in most triples allowed. I think OF defense matters.

    All that said, with the starters — possibly the best rotation in baseball — the Mets will win a lot a games with only mediocre support offensively, defensively, and in the pen.

    I just hope we don’t look back after a one-and-done WC game and see it as a year when we didn’t do enough to support a legendary starting rotation. The hopes of the 2017 season have been largely pinned on the 2016 roster. At the same time, get this group into a seven-game series, with these arms, and they could go all the way. I guess that’s baseball.

    I realize this reads like an over-reaction to five games, but I don’t think that’s true. Many of these concerns have existed from last season and beyond.

    • April 9, 2017 at 11:37 am

      I don’t view your post as an over-reaction to five games. I think you have been extremely consistent with your POV and since the Mets are returning the same team…

      However, I disagree with some of your points.

      It’s an offense that relies on power over speed and fundamentals. That doesn’t make it poorly designed – it’s just not the offense that you would prefer. I don’t see any difference in an offense that wins 90 games, scores 700 runs and does it with power than with an offense that wins 90 games, scores 700 runs and does it with small ball.

      Your view on RISP is demonstrably false.

      It would be nice if the OF defense was better. It wouldn’t completely shock me if they led the league in triples allowed but I certainly wouldn’t wager on it. I think the defense is better with Bruce in RF than with Granny. I think him allowing fewer runners going first to third will make up for whatever balls Granny would get to that he doesn’t. My opinion is that OF defense is not a team strength but will not play a major role in the success/failure of the season.

  3. Eraff
    April 10, 2017 at 6:32 am

    2 nights ago, The Marlins went to a full shift on Curtis Granderson up 6-1 with the bases loaded and none out. Why was Grandy not bunting for a hit???

    Down big, the objective is to get base runners. Even at 1/3 success rate, the bunt is superior to outcome from swinging the bat….and I’d believe that the shift employed should be beatable 50% of the time, at least.

    • Eraff
      April 10, 2017 at 8:27 am

      i intended to indicate the mets down 6-1 with none out and bases empty—why not bunt?

  4. Metsense
    April 10, 2017 at 6:48 am

    If Bruce and Duda continue to play near their career averages then this is a very powerful lineup where one swing had change the dynamic of a game and puts a lot of pressure on the opposing pitcher. Duda is beginning to prove again that he is a full time player but Flores is too good in the platoon to have to sit.
    Robles needs to pitch better so that he had step up to a more important role in 2018 (like set up man). Otherwise Blevins,Salas and Reed are holding leads as expected.
    Good start for Harvey but realistically some bumps should be expected.
    The 2016 RISP was an anomaly and right now the team is flat out not hitting. They are now 3-3 instead of 4-2. Patience, he bats will heat up.
    TDA needs to be at least average offensively. The two RBI hit the other day rewarded him with a seat on the bench against a LHP. Alderson says he is an integral piece but TC’s actions seem to indicate a different a point of view.
    Reyes is off to a brutal start. Going forward, if he can start playing at an average level then that would be all to expect from a 34 year old.

    • April 10, 2017 at 8:03 am

      There are zero reasons not to have Rivera be Syndergaard’s personal catcher. Rivera has made three starts this year and two of them have been when Noah was on the mound. I’m not concerned about TC’s use of d’Arnaud.

      What I am concerned about with TC is his preference for a stable lineup. Everyone’s focusing on Reyes leading off but I think we should give some scrutiny to Cabrera batting second, too.

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