With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, two men on base, and trailing the Tampa Bay Rays, Francisco Alvarez reignited the hope for the so-far 2023 disappointing season for the New York Mets. Alvarez ripped a game-tying three-run shot to send the Mets to extra innings, and Pete Alonso finished the comeback off with his own three-run blast to finish things off in the 10th. Then on Thursday, the Mets finished off the series win against the Rays with a crisp 3-2 victory. In what could be used as a turning point for this team it is also important to remember that the team has managed to tread water despite not playing nearly up to the level that they are capable of. And if you look at recent successes out of the NL East, the Mets are actually still on schedule to be in the playoff picture late into the season.

To understand the similarities of the Mets to recent NL champions (who all happen to be NL East rivals outside of the 2020 Dodgers), one place to start could be the pitching staff. Heading into the season this was supposed to be the strength off of the Mets, but it has quickly turned into something that makes fans want to avert their eyes from the screen. There are only so many ways to describe how bad the starters have been, and it will undoubtedly have an impact on the bullpen as we get later into the season. The starters slowly seem to be starting to right the ship, but they still have a long way to go to be at an actual consistent level of play. The Mets pitching ERA right now is an abysmal 5.25, with most of the blame falling on the starters. If there is proof of a pitching staff turning things around, it is the 2019 Washington Nationals. In May, their staff ERA was a lowly 4.87, mostly weighed down by their bullpen, and they stumbled to a 12-17 record in that month. However, they acquired bullpen help at a low cost during the trade deadline, and turned things around to win the World Series. The Mets will be in prime position to add a starter or two during the deadline, and bolster a rotation that can only improve from where they currently are.

Another interesting aspect to look at is the performance of star players during a team’s early season struggles. For the 2022 Phillies, they were looking for more from J.T. Realmuto in the month of May. Realmuto’s May was marked by a .229/.323/.374 slashline, with an tOPS+ of 73. With a number below 100 indicating a less than average performance of the stat over the course of a player’s career, it was clear to see that Realmuto was not living up to past performances. Francisco Lindor, who is having as weird as a season as possible, is another interesting player to look at. Looking to build off of an extremely strong 2022, Lindor has brought his power bat back with him, but not the rest of his swing from last season. As of the writing of this, Lindor has more extra base hits (20) than he does singles (19). While there is concern with Lindor’s plate discipline, a minuscule improvement could make a difference on the bigger outlook of his season.

Looking back at Realmuto, he improved his splits by adding a few hits per month. By upping his hit totals in consecutive months, first by four and then by three in July and August, Realmuto greatly improved the narrative of his season, and the narrative of his team’s as well as they were starting to get hot. If you added five hits to Lindor’s current total, all of a sudden his struggles seem less and his few extra hits have likely contributed to some extra run production as well. There’s no doubt that Lindor is hitting the ball hard when he gets in contact with the ball, but his discipline needs to improve. At bats like his last one against the Rays on Wednesday, where he struck out on three pitches but was glossed over due to Alonso’s home runs, simply can’t happen for a player of his magnitude. Some added plate discipline will lead to better pitch selection, and better pitch selection will lead to better success for Lindor and the team as a whole.

With the hype surrounding the team at the onset of the season, the slow start has been disappointing. It is important to keep in mind that the Mets are still treading water, and could be at .500 by the end of the weekend. It’s only May, and teams have started worse and ended up deep into the postseason, sometimes winning it all, so let’s still refrain from pushing the panic button just yet.

Mets pitching so far has a 5.25 May ERA
Lindor has more extra base hits (20) than singles (19)
Against the Rays, the Mets won their first series since April

4 comments on “Can May struggles bring October successes?

  • Steve_S.

    Why can’t I read this? What “membership level” are we suddenly confronted with?

    • Hobie

      What does “ content not permitted for your membership level” mean??
      Never saw this before?

      • Brian Joura

        It means the author messed up. It’s fixed now.

  • Metsense

    Consistency for the starting pitchers should improve when they are healthy. But there is no excuse for Peterson and Lucchesi. Senga and Megill has pitched as expected. We haven’t seen a healthy Verlander, Scherzer, Carrasco and Quintana yet.
    It would be nice if Lindor had a couple more hits but the hits that he is producing have an impact on the game. His defense is stellar I like the author says, his offense is struggling and should get better.

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