The New York Mets made a statement on Opening Day with 11 runs and 13 hits. Six players had multiple hits, including Colin Cowgill who delivered a grand slam. Opening Day inspired momentary hope for the 2013 season, but devout Mets fans knew it was only a mirage.
April has exposed the team’s flaws. They have been struggling to capitalize with runners in scoring position for most of the past week. Aside from Jonathon Niese and Matt Harvey, no one else in the pitching rotation is reliable. The bullpen has flashes of competency but generally expands opponents’ leads or cancels out any progress the Mets lineup makes.
The Mets have scored a high amount of runs per game this season, but mostly because of several high-scoring routs against lowly teams. For the most part they struggle to turn hits and walks into runs, and the shortcomings are as painful as nails to a chalkboard. Manager Terry Collins shakes up the lineup each game in an effort to spark the offense to no avail. Most of the outfielders cannot consider themselves everyday players and are not provided enough at-bats to prove themselves.
Lucas Duda, positioned at left field, has been the only everyday outfielder. Ike Davis has been in a rut since the start of the season and has been pushed him down as far as seventh in the lineup. On April 27 the ever-reliable and clucth Daniel Murphy hit third in the lineup and David Wright fourth in the cleanup position, even though Wright only has two homeruns on the season.
Davis was expected to bat cleanup based on his power surge throughout the second half of last season, but now he strikes out in multiple scoring opportunities and finds himself behind in the count. Despite blasting four homeruns, his below-.200 average makes him merely a sporadic threat. He has developed a reputation for arguing with umpires and throwing his bat after striking out; Mets fans would rather see him send the ball to the seats.
The team desperately needs Davis’ power so that runners do not get stranded. John Buck leads the team with home runs and RBIs but will unlikely be able to sustain this pace. He is already cooling off and swinging and missing more. Buck has single handedly won games for the Mets, masking poor pitching and occasionally shoddy defense in the process.
The Mets hit a walk-off grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 24 and shut out the Washington Nationals on April 21, but those highlights are not bright enough to give the Mets a winning record. Instead of being shocked and disappointed when the Mets lose, fans have become surprised when they score runs and win.
The lineup is too patient, unable to get a big hit or too aggressive and on its third out in under three minutes. The bullpen is either flawless when the Mets already have a large lead or a punching bag in a tight game. Margin for error on the Mets is razor thin because there is a sparse amount of talent on the team.
On April 27 reliever Robert Carson gave up five runs in the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies, stretching a tight 3-2 games into an 8-2 rout on the Mets. They ultimately lost 9-4 on national television. It is embarrassing enough that their games are broadcasted at all.