Baseball is one of the hardest sports to predict, Even the best players have bad years. Bryce Harper was the NL MVP in 2015 and then hit .247 in 2016. You rarely see star NBA players or Elite Quarterbacks fall off like that but Bryce is back on top this year. The same goes for teams, every year there are a few teams that shock us in both a good and bad way. The Mets have obviously shocked us in a bad way along with the defending champion Cubs, who were thought to be a sure bet for the playoffs and currently find themselves on the outside looking in. The teams the Cubs are looking up at in their division and in the wild card are the good surprises of the year. The Brewers, Rockies and Diamondbacks were not looked at as power house teams in the NL but have all exceeded expectations and taken the league by storm. The quick turnaround Of these teams gives me some hope that it can be done by the Mets as well.
In order to fix the Mets we first have to figure out what went wrong, and that is easy. Everything we thought would be good has been bad. The issues we thought they had have been the stabilizing force. The pitching that was tasked with leading the team has been dreadful, sitting at 28th in baseball in ERA and 27th in batting average against. Another huge issue has been infield defense. The left side of the infield has resulted in a -30 defensive runs saved, by far the worst in baseball. This is an issue that I am less concerned going forward because the top 2 prospects Dom Smith and Amed Rosario are known for their defensive prowess at 1st and Shortstop respectively, so an upgrade at 3rd in the off-season should be all they need improve. The offense on the other hand something that has been an issue for the last 2 years has been solid, ranking 14th in runs scored and 9th in OPS. So on the surface the fix seems simple get the pitching staff back on track and we will be set. This is going to hurt most Met fans but its time to come to the realization that the “5 aces” will never be, b u that’s OK. The only team in the last 10 years to win a world series with all 5 starters having double digit wins was the 2012 Giants, and 2 of those had 4+ ERAs so they were far from aces. A look at recent history will tell you that you either need a dominant bullpen that can shorten the game or 3 good starters. Noah Syndergaard will return from his injury and be fine, that i’m sure of. Jacob Degrom is a stud, hes shown that over the past 3 years. All that is needed is for Steven Matz to stay on the field. when he has he’s shown that he is a top flight pitcher. Now just because Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey are not aces doesn’t mean they are useless. They have both been 6 inning pitchers and if they are the 4th and 5th guys that is all they need to be. The bullpen is what worries me, it needs to be fully revamped. Familia will be closer and that’s fine, well see he recovers from his blood clot. Addison Reed will probably be traded by July 31st and Jerry Belvins’ option will be picked up and he wil be back, after that everyone needs to go. Fernando Salas and Hansel Robles have been awful after great starts to their seasons, the rest of the cast has been interchangeably bad. With only Familia and Blevins sticking around that leaves 5 open spots to fill, it won’t be easy but bullpen arms are always available and with some luck they can be a solid unit again next year.
Maybe I’m looking at this with rose colored glasses. Maybe i have too much faith in Sandy Alderson, who I think has done a great job overall and has shown a propensity for getting good assets in his “selling” deal (Noah, Wheeler, Vic Black, Dilson Herrea just to name a few). It’s entirely possible the whole team will need to be blown up next year and we’ll have to start from scratch with nothing but a 25 year old flame throwing ace, a 25 million dollar 30 homer hitting outfielder and a couple of young studs playing center field shortstop and 1st base. It’s possible, but i don’t think it will be necessary. Then again what the heck do i know?