Team Profile – New York Mets
The Mets have been the bottom of the N.L. barrel for as long as anyone in recent memory. But this season they’re reaching for the top, and find themselves only three and a half games out of first place in the N.L. East. The Mets got off to a slow start, but they’ve definitely picked things up, and were even leading the division briefly a month or so ago. Can they keep it up and rise to the top once again?
Despite only being in second place, the Mets’ rotation starting rotation has been very good. John Niese and Dillon Gee are pitching admirably, with ERAs of 3.55 and 4.42, and WHIPs of 1.27 and 1.29 respectively. Johan Santana seems to have bounced back from his surgeries to pick up some of his old Cy Young form. He currently holds a 3.00 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. But the biggest pitching story this season so far is by far and away R.A. Dickey. Dickey is 12-1 with a 2.15 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. Dickey is putting up even better numbers than Justin Verlander did last year in his Cy Young/MVP season. If Dickey keeps pitching this way, he’ll easily surpass 25 wins. Plus, if the Mets continue as they have been (or play even better and make a run at a playoff berth) then Dickey could wind up just like Verlander did last year: as the Cy Young and MVP winner. He’s easily on his way to the first right now.
Mike Baxter and Jason Bay are hurting right now for the Mets, but otherwise this offense is making a serious statement. David Wright is hitting .359 after nearly half the season. Baxter and Rubin Tejada are hitting over .300. David Murphy, Ronnie Cedeno, Kirk Nieuwenhuls, and Justin Turner are all hitting in the high .200s. It’s a team that is definitely hitting well, with three different players boasting home run totals of ten or more right now as well. Not only are there guys hitting well above average, but there’s a little pop up and down the lineup, too. That’s just the right combination for continued success as the season presses on.
The Mets’ bullpen seems to be underperforming in a big way this season. While injuries aren’t too much of a problem (other than their closer Frank Francisco and Mike Pelfrey), the Mets have gone through the equivalent of two full bullpens so far this season. Ultimately, it comes down to a few pitchers at a time being unproductive when needed. The heart of the pen has been okay (not great), with ERAs ranging between 3.00 and 5.00. It’s really been the inconsistency of the fringe pitchers that have put the team in a bit of a spot. Additionally, some of the pen pitchers have been less than stellar about keeping games in check when they’re close late, which as resulted in a lot of losses for a number of pitchers.
Keys to Success
Two thirds of this team is playing exceptionally well right now. The starting rotation and the offense are playing above and beyond expectations (not the least of which is R.A. Dickey’s season thus far). The only way the team is really going to find continued success is if the bullpen picks things up considerably. As well as everyone else has been, the entire rotation can’t be filled with Dickeys, and the offense is going to have a few slow days once in a while. That means the bullpen has to pick up the pace and keep the team in more games. If it can’t do at least that much, then the Mets will never take that top spot. After all, it’s getting closer and closer to the trade deadline, and if New York is still hanging around at that point then they may be willing to put together a package for a top-tier reliever that will finally round out the bullpen to championship caliber.