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.