What a difference a month makes.
In July, the Mets were 14-9 with a 3.40 ERA, as they finally got the five starters they envisioned going to battle with this year in the rotation at the same time. But they traded two of their top three starters, along with their top reliever at the end of the month and results in August weren’t quite so rosy. The Mets went 11-18 with a 4.98 ERA in the eighth month of the calendar year.
And the pitching staff’s ERA in August was that poor despite some really good outings from the starters. Jose Quintana gave 6 IP with 1 ER on 8/12 and 6 IP with 0 ER on 8/29. Kodai Senga gave 7 IP with 1 ER on 8/19 and 6.2 IP with 2 ER on 8/25. Joey Lucchesi hurled 5.2 scoreless innings on 8/18, David Peterson put up 7 IP with 1 ER on 8/27 and Tylor Megill posted 6 IP with 1 ER on 8/28.
The problem was Carlos Carrasco allowing 18 ER in 19.2 IP and the team’s relievers allowing a 5.87 ERA in 104.1 IP.
The Mets put Carrasco on waivers and in something that shocked no one, he went unclaimed. Last we saw Carrasco he was warming up in the bullpen. But Buck Showalter felt it was better to go a second inning with Jeff Brigham than bring Carrasco into the game. By all accounts, Carrasco is a good man and it gives me no pleasure to point out the giant fork sticking out of his back. But the simple matter is that there’s no reason for him to ever throw another pitch for the Mets again.
Somehow, nine different relievers had an ERA over 7.00 for the month, which ought to be impossible. Those nine allowed 56 ER in 50.1 IP. That new pitching lab can’t start showing results soon enough. Either that or emphasize talent over options moving forward. Shoot, let’s do both.
Meanwhile, it was feast or famine for the hitters in August. Six hitters had an OPS of .771 or greater, while eight had an OPS of .544 or worse. The good news is that among our six hitters who did well, the fewest PA were 64, so it’s not like it was guys who came up five times and got two hits.
By now, everyone knows about the hitting exploits of DJ Stewart, who had a 1.106 OPS in 76 PA in August, with virtually all of the damage done in the last two weeks of the month. Pete Alonso clubbed nine homers in the month, en route to a .911 OPS. Everyone’s favorite whipping boy, Daniel Vogelbach, turned in the third-best month, with an .890 OPS, a mark driven by his .542 SLG. Both Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor had OPS marks in the .800s, while Jeff McNeil had 36 hits in August, which led to a .771 OPS.
It seems like with four regulars and two guys who get bats in the strong side of a platoon performing this well that the Mets should have had a good month offensively. Yet the club had a .707 OPS in August, compared to a .744 MLB average. Much like it was for the Mets in 2022 in August, catching and third base were sink holes for the 2023 squad. And LF wasn’t any better for this year’s squad.
You watch individual ABs for Francisco Alvarez and his approach seems to be ok. But the results are simply not there. The Mets have tried to give him plenty of days off but the problem is that Omar Narvaez hasn’t been much better at the plate and seems worse defensively than the rookie who allegedly wasn’t ready to perform defensively in the majors.
Mark Vientos did not take advantage of more consistent playing time, as he put up a .453 OPS in 68 PA, with a 33.8 K%. And now it looks like Brett Baty will be returning to the majors, which will cut into Vientos’ playing time. Baty played 17 games in the minors and hit five homers to go along with an .822 OPS. But he had a 25.3 K% in August at Syracuse and the hope was that he would have performed better in the minors before getting the recall.
So, what should we be on the lookout for from the Mets in September? It would be nice to see the following:
1. Strong finishes from Lucchesi, Megill and Peterson, hoping that one of them can be penciled in to the Opening Day roster as one of the club’s five starters.
2. Improved numbers from McNeil with the idea that he’s put his early-season woes behind him.
3. Better ABs from Baty, who looked completely lost at the plate last we saw him.
4. Continued power from Stewart and Vogelbach, giving the club a reason to bring them both back in 2024.
5. Lots of playing time for Ronny Mauricio in left field, with the idea that he can replace Mark Canha, rather than Luis Guillorme, in the club’s plan for next season.