Sheer confidence in the 2021 Mets was met with mid-to-late-season disappointment.
Jacob deGrom looked to be the clearcut best pitcher on the planet and the National League MVP … until injuries derailed his season.
The trade for Francisco Lindor and subsequent 10-year deal looked incredible…until he bat a measly .230.
The Mets looked to be on the up-and-up with a new owner in Steve Cohen, who actually reaches into his wallet unlike the Wilpons…until poor offense, injuries, and inconsistencies from various players led to a second-half collapse, a 77-85 overall record, and mathematical playoff elimination for the fifth straight regular season.
However, 2022 is shaping up to be a different story. And I know it’s only been four games, so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
But after a successful season-opening series against the Nationals in which the Mets won three of four, it’s clear there’s a new energy in Queens coinciding with the start of the Buck Showalter era.
Success on the mound
The Mets starting rotation has thrown more innings through the first series than any other starting rotation in the majors, and it’s led to a 1.59 combined ERA among Tylor Megill, Max Scherzer, Chris Bassitt, and Carlos Carrasco.
Through the first series of the season, no starting rotation in MLB has thrown more innings than the Mets.
They've pitched to a sparkling 1.59 ERA ✨ pic.twitter.com/eoxqmZAMr4
— SNY Mets (@SNY_Mets) April 11, 2022
While Megill allowed zero earned runs through 5.0 innings on Opening Day, Scherzer allowed three through 6.0 — more than the Mets likely wanted him to allow, but still decent.
Bassitt additionally didn’t allow a run through 6.0 innings Saturday while Carrasco let up just one in 5.2 innings Sunday.
Don’t forget, this is all without arguably the top pitcher on the planet in the rotation — deGrom will miss at least four weeks due to a stress reaction in his right scapula.
The Mets still need to send Taijuan Walker to the hill for the first time, which they will do in Monday’s road matchup with the Phillies. Walker was an All-Star last year and is looking for a strong outing to commence his second season in Queens.
If this rotation can consistently succeed, the team will be in a great spot in the National League East when deGrom eventually returns.
Lindor’s strong start
Isn’t it nice seeing Francisco Lindor, who the Mets will be making a financial investment in for the next decade, getting off to a strong start? Especially after last year’s struggles in what was his inaugural season with the team?
The talented shortstop smacked his first home run of the year in Sunday’s loss to Washington and has already been able to get on base consistently — he’s recording a .471 on-base percentage and 1.054 OPS.
This is a year the Mets cannot waste due to the talent they employ — they already wasted 2021 and the COVID-impacted shortened 2020 season. We know Lindor is a great defensive shortstop, but it’s his production at the plate that will be important in this crucial year.
Regardless of how you feel about Robinson Cano; regardless if you want to call him a cheater or selfish due to his 2021 suspension for performance-enhancing drug use — having a bat like his in the lineup will be huge for the Mets.
His age will obviously diminish his effectiveness as a fielder and baserunner, so it’s a good thing the universal DH is finally existent in the majors.
The veteran was 2-for-3 on Opening Day — beating the shift with a bunt! — and followed that up with a two-RBI performance in Friday’s win. Heading into the upcoming series against Philly, Cano is batting .273 with a .333 on-base percentage.
Having as many productive bats as possible is never a bad thing. Constant offensive production will be important for the Mets in a year when they must improve off their 2021 offensive blunders.
Great to have Cano back, at least thus far.
Buck Showalter isn’t taking any crap — he proved that Friday night when he stormed out of the dugout midgame while voicing his displeasure at the Nationals. At the time, Washington reliever Steve Cishek had plunked Lindor on a pitch high and in, one that cracked Lindor’s tooth.
It was the fourth time in the first two games a Met had been hit by a pitch — catcher James McCann was hit twice on Opening Day and Pete Alonso was also plunked in the shoulder/helmet flap during the first game.
It had become a dangerous situation, and Showalter had shown unconditional support for his men. It’s tough to imagine Luis Rojas responding that way, especially during only the second game of a managerial tenure.
Buck is bringing an old-school approach to Queens, but one that still works in the modern era. The attitude is different; the vibe is different; the energy is different. And it’s led to a strong start.
More work to be done though — 158 games remain in the regular season.