With an 8-2 record over their last 10 games, and a three game win streak entering the All-Star break, the New York Mets are the hottest team in the National League. They have scored seven or more runs four separate times in that span, and the offense has become the engine of the team’s success. The season line of the team is still sub-par and sub-.500, but this stretch gives everyone some hope about the team going forward.
After severely dropping payroll the past several offseasons, the Mets finally shelled out a few dollars, bringing in Bartolo Colon and Curtis Granderson. After tough starts to their Mets career, particularly for Granderson, the pair finally began to play up to expectations. Perennial team MVP David Wright has also awoken once again from his on-and-off slumber, giving the team something resembling a major league offense for the first time all year.
One of the bigger things to watch for the New York Mets throughout the year was how well their younger players developed. Last year, Matt Harvey proved he could be the team’s ace for years to come, despite suffering an elbow injury that cost him the entire 2014 season. This year, Zack Wheeler was the one to check out in the rotation, and Noah Syndergaard the big name in the minors, to see if they could continue to improve and give the Mets some assurances going into 2015. While Wheeler has been up and down, he really has been solid overall. He is definitely showing new applications of his pitches this year, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio has improved.
Syndergaard, still in Triple-A, recently pitched in the Futures Game. While most expected him to make the major league jump sometime during summer, as Wheeler and Harvey did each of the past two years, the team has hinted that he may not be recalled at all. Syndergaard has struggled a bit this year, his first in Triple-A, but it should be noted that his league and park are both hitters’ havens. He has also suffered a few minor injuries. In any case, it has been the harshest year of Syndergaard’s young professional career, but it is definitely no reason to drop expectations of the young man just yet. By 2015, all of these eggs should be hatched, delivering three healthy young arms ready to carry the team.
Travis d’Arnaud might have commiserated with Syndergaard about having a tough year when he was demoted to the minors for about three weeks in June. Since his return, however, the team and fans have to be ecstatic with the results d’Arnaud has gotten. Already complimented for his work behind the plate, d’Arnaud was demoted because he was hitting worse than some pitchers around the league. That has completely flipped, though, and d’Arnaud has an OPS of .863 since his return. He has also bumped his season batting average 37 points in only 16 games.
For the second half, the New York Mets have a dilemma. They need to keep hitting like they have been of late to keep winning games. However, they do not have the offensive depth to do it, unless every one of Wright, Granderson, d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy all stay hot. That is an awfully long time to depend so heavily on a group like that when the team is getting little in the lineup behind them.
The front office would likely – and wisely – be opposed to trading away any major young talent for what still remains an outside shot at the playoffs. Chris Young has not been the bat the Mets expected, so the team would really benefit from a right-handed platoon player to complement Duda, or an upgrade at shortstop over Ruben Tejada. The New York Mets will look to keep the pressure on the rest of the National League East when they open the second half with six straight games on the West Coast. Whether the recent excitement over the team will be rewarded remains to be seen.
Commentary by Brian Moore