Somehow, the Mets just escaped Atlanta with a split of their four-games-in-three-days series. It felt like they lost about seven games, there, but really, it was only two. No, really…true story, I swear. Anyway that leaves them with a chance for only their second .500-or-better week since the one that began on April 8. Of course, that would mean taking two of the next three from the Cubs, so that doesn’t seem very likely, but hey, hope springs eternal, right? Somehow it does for everyone but the Mets. This was not how we pictured it five weeks ago.
Five weeks ago, everything was coming up roses. Manager Mickey Callaway flicked all the right levers and the team just could not lose, but for an Easter Sunday hiccup in the season’s third game. They were 11-1 and riding high. Well, since then, their record is 16-25 and they have plunged to fourth place in the division, four games out. The fact that they’re that close seems miraculous with all that’s gone on already in this still-young season. The projected pitching superstaff is in tatters. A lot of hoopla was made a number of weeks ago when the putative Fab Five – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler – took exactly two turns as an intact rotation before Harvey was traded to Cincinnati. deGrom has been brilliant, yes, and Syndergaard has been fine, if not as dominant as we’d become accustomed to, OK, but the rest have been spotty, at best – and Syndergaard is on the DL at the present time. They’ve been without the meat of their lineup, with Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier on the shelf for extended periods and Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce hitting well below their respective career norms. The bright spots offensively have been Asdrubal Cabrera and Brandon Nimmo. The retreads – Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista – have done surprisingly well in spots, but not consistently enough to jumpstart the offense. The bullpen, such a strength in the early going, has been a disaster of late. Suffice to say, in the past week, the Mets lost five games in which they had a lead in the seventh inning or later. Turn those around and they’re 11 games over .500, rather than one.
The next few weeks will be telling for this franchise. They seem to be at a crossroads, and it seems like GM Sandy Alderson has only so much time: it feels like the next two months will be his last, best shot to reverse a legacy of mostly failure. The amateur draft is next week and the run-up to the trade deadline is after that. If the team’s fortunes don’t improve, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him try to go full-on Cubs/Astros/Braves/Phillies and tear the whole thing down. Ownership and fans would have to take a long look at a scorched Earth rebuild – something you supposedly “can’t do” in New York – but it may be what’s best for the health of the franchise long-term. In any case, time is starting to tick for guys like Cespedes, Frazier, Cabrera, the retreads and any pitcher not named “deGrom.” The team has to turn it around immediately if it is to have any kind of hope for a post-season berth. Oh, and on top of everything else, there was a fire at Citi Field yesterday.
Maybe it will prove cathartic.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.