Now that the All-Star break is officially over, it’s time for the Mets to get back to work. And there is plenty of work to do.
Manager Buck Showalter’s squad will take the field against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday with a 42-48 record. That’s in stark contrast to where they were at the start of 2022’s second half. This performance has them 18.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and seven games back of the final NL Wild Card spot.
FanGraphs gives them a 0% chance of coming back and winning the division (which is obvious). New York’s odds of making the playoffs are down to 14.6%. Prior to Opening Day, those odds were up at 77.1%.
If the Mets plan on shocking everyone by returning to the postseason, the entire roster needs to pull itself together and fire on all cylinders. The following five players have the most to prove based on their first-half performance, though.
Starling Marte was a 2022 All-Star for the Mets, and when he hit the injured list last September, it was a huge blow for the offense.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t found that form thus far in 2023. Through 326 plate appearances, Marte is hitting .256/.309/.336 with five home runs, 28 RBI, 37 runs scored, and 23 steals. His OPS has gone from .814 to .644, while his wRC+ has gone from 136 to 83. After producing 3.0 fWAR in 2022, he’s currently sitting at 0.0.
New York has been awful in the first inning, and a lot of that can be attributed to Marte not producing when he bats second in the lineup behind Brandon Nimmo (.479 first-inning OPS in ’23, 1.009 in ’22).
Some of you may be thinking, “Well, why is McNeil on this list? He just won a batting title and we know what he’s capable of!” I can agree with that. But as mentioned earlier this week, he could be going through a huge adjustment without facing extreme shifts this year.
If the season ended today, his .659 OPS and 91 wRC+ would both be career-low marks. It looks even more pronounced after those numbers were at .836 and 143, respectively, last season.
I certainly didn’t have Max Scherzer’s midseason ERA at 4.31 on my 2023 Mets Baseball Bingo Card. But that’s where he’s at, which is a full two runs higher than his 2022 regular-season ERA (2.29).
What’s been most frustrating to watch is the inconsistency. The beginning of his season included small injury issues, a foreign substance suspension, and some decreased velocity. But during a three-start stretch between June 19-29, Scherzer posted a 2.25 ERA with 25 strikeouts and three homers allowed in 20 innings. His last two starts have included a 7.36 ERA with 16 strikeouts and five homers allowed in 11 innings.
Whether he stays with the Mets or gets traded at the deadline, New York needs him to pitch more like himself the rest of the way.
The Mets clearly think highly of Brett Baty and view him as the future at third base. I mean, if they didn’t, New York wouldn’t have traded Eduardo Escobar to the Angels. These next few months will be important for Baty to show the organization that he can be the everyday answer at the hot corner.
Baty’s first 10 games played in April (eight starts) yielded a .861 OPS. However, his monthly OPS number hasn’t crested above .675 in May, June, or July (so far). After starting his season with a .333/.394/.467 line through 33 plate appearances, the 23-year-old’s triple slash is .229/.302/.335 over his last 201 trips to the plate.
Growing pains will happen for a young ballplayer. But it sure would be nice to see him produce a little more at the dish over the final stretch of this regular season.
It’s been a roller coaster kind of year for David Peterson. He won the fifth spot in the rotation coming out of spring training and did so quite handily. The southpaw then found himself in Triple-A after posting an 8.08 ERA through his first eight starts. He returned for three starts before the All-Star break and looked much better (2.35 ERA in 15.1 innings).
Jose Quintana is back from the Injured List. That could either mean there’s an odd man out or the Mets will employ some version of a six-man rotation. Every appearance matters (especially for young pitchers), but each one is another chance for Peterson to show the coaching staff he deserves a significant role on the big-league club.