The New York Mets have dropped to 0-3 on the season after falling to the Washington Nationals 8-2 on Thursday. It can be very hard to stay positive when the win column is empty, but the Mets must shake off the sweep very quickly. Lulls like this are most noticeable when they come at the beginning or end of the season, but even dominant teams get swept over such a long season. The team does have a number of positives to take into their next series, which begins Friday against Cincinnati.
One worry the Mets can erase is Curtis Granderson bringing his bat. There was a mild panic among fans after Granderson went hitless for a mere two games, but the phrase “small sample size” is something that should always be in the back of everyone’s mind this early in the year. No one is as good or as bad as their first few games, or weeks, make them seem. If what Granderson was in can be classified as a slump, he certainly broke out of it with a pair of doubles.
Thursday also brought the return of second baseman Daniel Murphy, who was excused from the Mets’ first two games so he could be with his wife during and after the birth of their son. Murphy caught an awful lot of heat for missing what amounts to about two percent of his plate appearances from last season. His time off was deserved and well within his rights, but on a team so devoid of hitting it is certainly a boost for him to be back. Murphy is a player who missed only a single game last year, playing in 40 more contests than his next closest teammate. He is important to the Mets and has earned some slack.
Perhaps the most important thing to take away from the sweep going forward was that Zack Wheeler continued to look like a major league arm. In 100 innings last season he was solid, and his first start of 2014 year was good as well. Wheeler struck out six and walked only two in six innings of work. He did throw an awful lot of pitches for the number of innings he worked, but as someone with only about a half of a season under his belt that is something he may learn to control, particularly if he keeps his walks down. Wheeler should be the ace of this staff until Matt Harvey is able to return, be it late this season or in 2015.
The Mets will likely continue to be carried by their pitching and defense, and by David Wright’s hitting. If fans need something legitimate to worry about, the Mets are catching up to their division counterpart Atlanta Braves in terms of injuries. On top of the already missing Harvey, the team lost closer and best reliever Bobby Parnell on opening day, and outfielder Chris Young just hit the disabled list with a strained quad. The Mets were going to have a difficult time hanging in the race with their already thin lineup and bullpen. The team has to shake off the sweep, reverse momentum and stay focused on the positives they have experienced so far.
Commentary by Brian Moore