As the New York Mets look to complete a four game sweep of the Atlanta Braves, fans have to be watching with a bit of astonishment. The team has played well in spurts before, but their power output over the past few weeks has been incredible for a team that was near the bottom of the National League in slugging. Since plating 11 runs against the Miami Marlins on June 22, the Mets have hit 19 home runs in 16 games, after averaging less than a dinger per contest over their first 75. What was perhaps the biggest weakness of the team has of late turned into a strength.
It has not just been the home runs, though. The Mets are averaging more than two doubles per game as well, and their batting average has seen a major uptick since late June. It is the kind of offensive output the team needs to have, although in spite of the jump in power they have earned themselves a mere 7-8 record over that span. The troubled Mets cannot seem to get their offense and pitching going at the same time for prolonged stretches.
After Dillon Gee returned Wednesday to pitch a gem, one should be fairly optimistic that the pitching will eventually find its groove. Bartolo Colon has been on a fantastic streak, Zack Wheeler has shown flashes of being great, and if John Niese can return healthy sometime after the break the rotation will be whole again for basically the first time all year.
The rotation, though, was expected to be a plus. It may not have quite lived up to expectations, but it has been solid, while the offense had been the cement shoes on the Mets’ season. That is what has made the hot hitting so surprising. Four of the Mets’ 10 best scoring games have come in the last three weeks, and all of it without major changes occurring to the lineup.
The biggest difference makers for the team have been David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, and Travis d’Arnaud, all of whom have had a significant surge in their power production. First time all star Daniel Murphy has had a steady, productive year, but for many stretches was joined by only one or two teammates. The Mets are finally hitting their stride in unison, with the production of d’Arnaud since his recall from AAA an especially big boon.
The reason the team has gone through so much of the season without a great offensive stretch until now is the lineup lacks depth. As opposed to a team like the Athletics, who showcase six or seven deep lineups on any given night, the Mets are basically a four or five man lineup, especially against left-handers when Duda is neutralized or benched. So, when one or two players slump, such as what happened with Wright in May and June, Granderson in April and May, or d’Arnaud basically all year until his return, the team cannot compensate.
Essentially, the team is capable of putting up runs on any given night, but not on a consistent basis. They can, however, get hot like they are now, and must take advantage while they can. They have now won two consecutive series, and need to keep it going as long as possible. Their hope is that their rotation, now steadied, can make up for those times when their stars are not hitting, because the bottom of the order certainly is not going to. For now, fans can enjoy it as the offense heats up to match the summer season.
Commentary by Brian Moore