Today’s Mets’ buzzword is “energy.’’ Mets manager Terry Collins, in talking about his team’s poor first half, bemoaned their lack of energy.
“We have to get energy back,’’ Collins said. “We aren’t playing with energy. We have to put a streak together, starting Friday.’’
At the break, the Mets are eight games under .500, 12 games behind Washington in the NL East, and 10 games behind the second wild-card Colorado with six teams to jump.
The Mets have been a string of bad optics from spring training until today. But, they are still alive.
I look at a potential pennant race from two angles. One, for a team to be in a race it has to be playing .500 ball and the Mets are eight games under. Secondly, there is enough time remaining with them being 12 games behind with 12 weeks remaining. As long as they can pick up one game a week it can be done. Mathematically, they are alive, but can they make a run? Have they demonstrated any signs of turning around their season?
So far, they have not.
There have been numerous times when they were on the cusp of making a move but stepped back. That trend started in April when after winning five straight, they lost 10 of 11.
They came out of that slide by winning the first two games of a three-game series in Washington and had Noah Syndergaard going in the final game. The Mets still had a chance with their ace gong.
However, that was the day Syndergaard, after refusing an MRI, tore his lat muscle and the Mets were routed 23-5. That was the singular most important moment of the first half.
From there, the Mets showed the resilience that marked their playoff pushes in the past two years. They went on to win six of eight to get back to .500 and give the perception anything was possible.
However, one of those two losses came when Matt Harvey was suspended and spot starter Adam Wilk was shelled by Miami. Syndergaard’s injury and Harvey’s suspension were two watershed moments from the first half.
However, the underlying theme of the first half was injuries, beginning with losing David Wright. Also going down were Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Juan Lagares, Jeurys Familia, Robert Gsellman, Harvey and Yoenis Cespedes.
Considering all that, it’s amazing they aren’t 20 games back.
“Well, pretty much the record speaks for itself,’’ said Collins. “No matter if you said, ‘Geez, we played without a lot of big pieces.’ We are not happy with where we are, certainly, so we’ve got to use this time to reassess what we’ve got to do in the second half and hopefully we start getting some of the pieces back.’’
Both the starters and bullpen have ERAs north of five, and there are no guarantees when, or if, they’ll get Syndergaard and Harvey back, and if so, how well they’ll perform. The same applies to Familia.
The Mets will be forced to decide if they’ll be sellers or buyers at the trade deadline. However, before that, they have to figure if they’ll get Syndergaard and Harvey back.
If they believe they’ll be back this season, then they have to be buyers. If they don’t, and GM Sandy Alderson has already decided his positions on Jay Bruce, Addison Reed, Duda, Walker and others for 2018, then they have to be sellers.
The key players are their best offensive player, Bruce, and their closer, Reed. If either is dealt, Alderson would have surrendered on the season.
“If you want to talk about what we saw the last few months, I’ll go back to what we saw in the last 12 months,’’ Collins said when asked if the Mets had it in them. “We saw a team, last year, that when they were challenged they rose up. So, I think it’s in their DNA that they can do it again. We’ll find out.’’
The Mets open the second half with a ten-game homestand against the Rockies, Cardinals and Oakland.