The Mets in April: What went right, what went wrong, and what questions remain?

The Mets in April: What went right, what went wrong, and what questions remain?

by Tim Reilly May 01, 2018 0 Comments

Put April in the books. The Mets head into May atop the N.L. East with a record of 17-9.

Before moving into May, let’s take a look back at the first month of play. Here’s what we’ve seen from the Mets on-and-off the field thus far.

What’s Gone Right

The aces:

Jacob deGrom: 6 starts, 3-0, 2.06 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 39 1/3 IP, 48 Ks.
Noah Syndergaard: 6 starts, 2-0, 2.86 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 34 2/3 innings pitched, 46 Ks.

The Mets will go as far as these two take them. DeGrom is setting a pace that would put him in the Cy Young conversation at year’s end, and Syndergaard is settling in to form as good of a 1-2 combo as there is in baseball. “Anything you can do I can do better” is the mentality deGrom and Syndergaard take with them to the mound every time out.

The bullpen conversions:

Robert Gsellman: 13 appearances, 15 IP, 3-0, 1.80 ERA, 1.27 WHIP
Seth Lugo: 9 appearances, 14,.1 IP, 1-0, 3.77 ERA, 1.40 WHIP

An injury to Anthony Swarzak and an inconsistent A.J. Ramos opened the door for Gsellman and Lugo to receive more prominent roles, and the biggest surprise on the pitching front has been Gsellman, who has wasted no time in becoming a guy I want to see handed the ball with a game on the line late. Gsellman has been money all year long, and while Lugo has been knocked around a few times of late, he proved his worth as a swingman early on.

Offense from unexpected places:

Asdrubal Cabrera: 5 HR, 17 RBIs, 20 runs, .340/.393/.580.
Todd Frazier:  4 HR, 17 RBIs, 16 runs, .256/.395/.444.
Brandon Nimmo: 9 runs in 32 at-bats, .313/.488/.563.
Juan Lagares: 13 hits in 38 at-bats, .342/.395/.368.

Cabrera has been the offensive MVP, as he has carried a heavy load with other key bats slumping early on. Frazier has provided a steady bat in the middle of the lineup, and his 20 walks have limited any concerns about his batting average. Nimmo and Lagares have made the most of their limited opportunities, and if one or both of them keep this up, Mickey Callaway will have to find a way to get them more playing time.

What’s Gone Wrong

The (former) aces:

Matt Harvey: 7 appearances (4 starts), 5.74 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 25 IP, 19 Ks.
Steven Matz: 5 starts, 1-2, 4.98 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 21 1/3 IP.

Harvey and Matz haven’t done their part in living up to the “5 aces” moniker. Both already face a questionable future not only in the rotation, but also for a spot on the active roster.  Harvey is flat out lost, pitching with lower velocity than he’s accustomed to and mediocre secondary pitches. Matz is an enigma I can’t wrap my head around, as it just never seems to “click” for him. I’m baffled that he still tips his breaking ball with a drastically slower delivery at this point in his career.

Wheeler (4 starts, 3.91 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 22 IP, 21 Ks) went from the odd man out to the only other arm besides deGrom and Syndergaard worthy of a rotation spot. He has plenty of room to improve, but at least he’s keeping the Mets in games.

Left out:

Jerry Blevins: 14 appearances, 9.00 ERA, 5 innings pitched and a 2.20 WHIP.

That’s something I didn’t see coming. Old reliable has been a liability thus far. I’ll give Blevins the benefit of a doubt that he will turn things around sooner rather than later, but I’m not so sure how long the Mets can go with Blevins as the lone lefty out of the pen if his struggles last another month.

Slumping stars:

Michael Conforto: 1 HR, 6 RBIs, .222/.390/.317.
Yoenis Céspedes: 6 HR, 25 RBI, 26 G, 46 Ks, .233/.292/.437

After returning earlier than expected from a shoulder injury, Conforto can’t seem to quite find his groove. Yes, he’s getting on base at almost a .400 clip, but we know how impactful Conforto’s bat can be when he’s going right. Céspedes certainly hasn’t played up to a star level, as he has played through some nagging injuries and illness, so make of that what you will. At the very least, Céspedes has still found a way to produce runs when he wasn’t at his best. We’ll see if this latest thumb injury further derails him or if he can build momentum of a strong closing to April.

What Questions Remain?

How will Callaway continue to handle the bullpen?

This is a big test for a rookie manager. Callaway’s already gone to Jeurys Familia on three different occasions in the eighth, which has been unsuccessful twice. He may need to switch gears from struggling veterans (like Blevins) and go with the emerging arms like Gsellman and Lugo in big spots.

Can the Mets dominate the division?

The Mets came out of the gate rolling against the N.L. East, going 10-4. If they can continue to take care of business against the Nationals, Braves, Phillies, and Marlins, it could put the Mets over the edge en route to winning a division title. That trend will have to continue starting on Tuesday with the Braves and their NL-best offense in town.

Can the Mets sustain their team chemistry?

My biggest takeaway through 26 games is that this team seems to be having a good time together. Since Spring Training began, there have been smiles up and down the dugout for each and every game. Callaway opened up the doors for a new clubhouse culture, and Todd Frazier has been the ringleader in creating a new one. Winning always makes following a team more enjoyable to watch but seeing this level camaraderie among the boys makes it feel special. But if they hit a prolonged funk, will the vibes stay good and work to the Mets’ advantage?

Tim Reilly
Tim Reilly


T7L contributing blogger - Follow Tim on Twitter

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