The first week of the 2020 MLB season is in the books. There are both great and worrying trends for the New York Mets so far.
The 2020 season has seen ups and downs across MLB. For example, six MLB teams are currently unable to play due to COVID-19. Luckily, the New York Mets have been able to avoid any COVID-related mishaps so far.
They’ve been able to play all seven of the games across the first week of the season. The Mets are already done with over 10% of their season, and currently stand at 3-4.
Over the first week, Mets fans have the very best and very worst of this team. Along the way, Mets fans have found reasons to hope and trends that should be concerning.
Strong starting pitching, weak bullpen
This is a New York Mets staple. Every year the Mets seem to have the same problem. The starting pitching is excellent, only for the bullpen to be the team’s biggest weakness.
So far in 2020, the Mets have gotten excellent production from their starters who are posting a 3.86 ERA, 3.79 FIP, a 4.22 xFIP, and the unit is currently ninth in fWAR. They’ve been a borderline top-10 rotation in MLB, even with Rick Porcello’s blow up against Atlanta. Even with all the injuries, the Mets seem to have the starters to compete.
The bullpen is a different story. They have a 5.90 ERA, 5.11 FIP, a 4.03 xFIP, and their 23rd in fWAR. They are one of the worst units in MLB… again. They’ve cost the Mets two of their first seven games.
The biggest issues so far have been Edwin Diaz and Hunter Strickland. The Mets already DFA’d Strickland, but they likely don’t have that option with Diaz. He’s continued to struggle with the home run ball and walks. Diaz has likely pitched himself out of the closer role in three appearances.
Manager Luis Rojas is also showing a tendency to overuse his bullpen arms early in the season. Justin Wilson was excellent to start the season, but he blew up when used for the fourth time in six games. Jeurys Familia has also been used four times in seven games. Meanwhile, Seth Lugo‘s made three appearances, Dellin Betances has only thrown two innings, and Drew Smith has thrown 2.2 innings.
Luis Rojas is going to have to figure out how to balance his bullpen to extract the most out of them. They have the talent to be one of the best in the majors if used properly. If things continue as they are now, the Mets’ bullpen is heading towards another disappointing season just like 2019.
Struggles with runners in scoring position
The Mets have had no problem putting runners on base and moving them over. In fact, they’re fourth in MLB in batting average and 10th in on-base percentage. For whatever reason, they’ve struggled mightily to drive those runners in.
Through the first week of the season, the Mets are just 13-for-60 (.217) with runners in scoring position. Some of the Mets’ biggest bats are to blame. Yoenis Cespedes, Wilson Ramos, Amed Rosario, J.D. Davis, and Michael Conforto are a combined 4-for-29 (.138) with runners in scoring position.
Only three players have been able to produce in those spots to this point in the season—Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo. Alonso, McNeil, and Nimmo are a combined 6-for-18 (.333) with runners in scoring position.
It’s great that Alonso, McNeil, and Nimmo continue to play well, but they really need their other bats to pick it up. If Cespedes, Conforto, and Davis continue to struggle, the team won’t be able to score runs.
Just like the bullpen, the Mets offense is elite on paper. They’ve shown flashes of that dominance already this season, but it’s all about clutch hitting now. If they can figure out how to drive runs in they might just hit enough to outpace an underperforming bullpen.
Hot and Cold starts for Mets’ stars
The Mets have gotten hot starts from the likes of Brandon Nimmo, Jacob deGrom, Seth Lugo, and Jeff McNeil. They’ve all played well to start the season.
Nimmo is slashing .292/.414/.500. McNeil is slashing .308/.387/.385. Jacob deGrom has allowed just two runs on four hits with 12 strikeouts through his first 11 innings. Seth Lugo has given up just one run on two hits with five strikeouts in his first 4.1 innings.
Sadly, not all the Mets have been so lucky. Pete Alonso has struggled mightily to start the season, though he looks to be coming out of his funk. He’s slashing .222/.344/.333, but he’s hit .313/.450/.500 in the last four games.
Michael Conforto’s offensive numbers look good, he’s slashing .292/.393/.458 to start the season. As impressive as that is, Conforto has struggled mightily to drive runs in. He has zero runs batted in despite seven plate appearances with runners in scoring position.
Even McNeil is having his issues. His bat has been working, but he’s committed four errors in just seven games at third base. His poor defense is part of the reason the Mets rank dead last in MLB in defensive runs saved.
There’s always bad with the good, but the Mets have some glaring weaknesses. The bullpen, defense, and clutch hitting have to improve. As things stand the Mets aren’t even a lock for the eighth seed in the National League.