The stars appeared to be aligning for the Mets. After finishing off an impressive 7-3 road trip in California, they had a breather on Monday before starting a homestand. The Atlanta Braves would be coming to town, but not before the lowly Washington Nationals.
When New York and Washington began a three-game set on Tuesday, it looked like a prime opportunity for the Amazins to fatten themselves up in the win column. Sure, Josiah Gray and MacKenzie Gore are exciting young pitchers, but Washington entered the matchup 7-14, which was one of MLB’s worst records.
So, naturally, the Mets’ offense has gone completely silent. They’ve not only lost the first two games, but they’ve also scored just one run during that time. New York has now lost four in a row for the first time since 2021.
Getting the offense going at any point would be helpful. But at the start of Wednesday’s game, SNY announcer Gary Cohen plainly stated something that’s troubling manager Buck Showalter’s offense: they’re not getting off to a fast start.
That was a hallmark of the 2022 Mets. They were able to consistently get off to a fast start. New York scored 98 first-inning runs last year, which ranked among the best in baseball. But so far this year, they’ve scored just four runs in the first inning. It hasn’t happened in a while, either.
After going scoreless in the first frame of Wednesday night’s game, New York’s streak of not pushing a run across extended to 16 games. According to Team Rankings, the Mets’ 0.16 runs per game in the first inning is MLB’s second-worst mark. Only the Detroit Tigers (who New York will face next week) are worse at 0.13.
We know Pete Alonso is the centerpiece of the offense from the standpoint of power. But he can only do so much. Brandon Nimmo has enjoyed a hot start, as well. The guys directly behind him, though? Not so much.
That’d be Starling Marte and Francisco Lindor. Through his first 89 plate appearances, Marte has posted a .631 OPS and 85 wRC+. Lindor’s .754 OPS isn’t far off from last year’s .788 mark, but it’s been propped up by lots of extra-base hits. Of the 20 knocks he’s recorded in 2023, 13 have gone for extra bases (nine doubles, four homers). The shortstop is currently hitting .213, which is a far cry from the .270 mark he finished with last season.
Look, nobody wants to see a prolonged losing streak, but it’s still early. In the grand scheme of things, losing four in a row isn’t the end of the world. It just feels that way because it’s been so long since New York last did it. There’s plenty of time for the offense to wake up and get going. And based on their recent track record, it’ll happen at some point.
However, scoring some early runs can go a long way in taking pressure off the lineup. Pushing a couple of runners across in the first (or even second) inning will allow everyone to take a breath and play with a lead instead of trying to catch up. They should give it a try. It’s supposed to be wild. Kind of like jogging, with a soft “J”.
You can reach Matt Musico at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.