Forget about injuries — a poorly constructed bullpen and shoddy defense are also major culprits in a disappointing season for the New York Mets. The team needs to learn from its mistakes so it doesn’t repeat them again in 2018.
After a heartbreaking walk-off loss Monday night in Washington D.C., the New York Mets were embarrassed on Independence Day, losing 11-4 to the first place Nationals.
The Mets had been making progress towards a return to a .500 record, beating up on the San Francisco Giants, Miami Marlins, and Philadelphia Phillies, all bottom feeders in the National League, over the past week.
That mini-streak found the team only 9.5 games behind the Nationals heading into their three-game series at Nationals Park.
But after dropping the first two games to Washington and now back to double-digit deficits in the playoff race, the Mets would need another blistering win streak to get back into contention.
The 2017 season has presented the Mets with many learning experiences, and hopefully, the organization will use its failures thus far to better the team for the remainder of this season and beyond.
There’s an old adage that goes “defense wins championships.” It doesn’t seem like anyone in the Mets front office has ever heard that before.
New York has committed 53 errors this season, tied with three other teams for the eighth-highest total in baseball. Only six teams have a lower fielding percentage than the Mets’ .983 mark.
Asdrubal Cabrera, the team’s opening day shortstop and, now, second baseman, has committed 11 errors so far, more than all but three players. To make matters worse, he’s done so in under 400 innings.
The Bullpen Needs Revamping
The Mets bullpen has actually been worse than their defense, which is pretty hard to believe.
Only two teams – Washington and Detroit – have a higher bullpen ERA than the Mets (5.04). The group’s 1.53 WHIP is baseball’s worst. Opposing batters are hitting .270 off Mets relievers, who sit in the bottom third of baseball in nearly every statistical category.
Arguing that the bullpen has been overused might have some tread if it wasn’t for this fact: Bullpens belonging to multiple contenders have thrown at least as many innings as Mets relievers have (289.1).
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That list includes the Milwaukee Brewers (304.1 IP), Minnesota Twins (292.2), Los Angeles Angels (291.1) and Houston Astros (290).
For all the flack the Nationals bullpen has gotten for blowing games, the Mets bullpen has been responsible for at least four more losses than Washington’s relievers. Maybe more.
Sure, the team’s awful defense isn’t helping its bullpen. Maybe they wouldn’t have such awful numbers with steadier gloves behind them.
“If you’re going to pitch, you’ve got to catch it,” Mets manager Terry Collins told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo after Tuesday’s loss. “Some of the best pitching in baseball has some of the best defense in baseball.”
With the 2017 season looking like it’s on life support, general manager Sandy Alderson needs to take note not only of what went wrong, but what his manager is saying.
He needs to learn from his mistakes so that the Mets aren’t dealing with the same problems again in 2018.
No matter how the rest of the season plays out, overhauling the bullpen and strengthening the defense must be priorities for the Mets if they’re going to contend anytime soon.