Doing their best to stay afloat, the New York Mets have managed to hold within a fair distance of the division lead. However, that is more in spite of the team’s performance than because of it. Slow starts by the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals kept the team close, but with each sub-.500 month that passes it becomes less likely the Mets reach the postseason. With the trade deadline on July 31st, the team will soon be deciding whether to bring in assets for a run or sell off and prepare for next year. Even though the season continues until September, fans will know shortly whether or not they should abandon the Wilpons’ scurvy-ridden ship for another year.
June batter of the month: Lucas Duda – Perhaps for the first time this year the Mets had several hitters on a hot stretch at the same time. Both Duda and Curtis Granderson had fantastic months, with Granderson’s perhaps a bit underrated due to his slow start suppressing his season numbers. Duda, however, was not only the top hitter on the team but one of the best in the National League over the past month. His June OPS is hovering just below 1.000, his batting average near .300, and he was in the top 20 in the National League in both RBI and on base percentage. His season numbers are not bad either. If Duda could ever learn to hit lefties at an even mediocre rate he would turn into a household name.
June pitcher of the month: Bartolo Colon – Colon had such a good month that he was even able to put together a hitting streak (technically). Colon might also be the fan favorite on the team right now, as he quietly and methodically compiled a 0.98 WHIP and 2.57 ERA over six June starts. On the mound he is calm and all business, at the plate and on the bases he is a magnetic, smiling, mess of a ballplayer. Either way he is beloved by fans and the ace of the Mets’ staff.
Disappointment of the month: Juan Lagares – After spending time on the disabled list in April, Lagares again hit the injury report in June, missing most of the month. While Lagares should not be blamed for his injuries, it is still disappointing to see the Mets without their best outfielder. They are a significantly better team with him in center field, both offensively and defensively.
Surprise of the month: Travis d’Arnaud- Seeing d’Arnaud hit for an extended time will be a big deal for the Mets, because he is expected to be their catcher for the foreseeable future. Since a demotion to Triple-A, d’Arnaud has shown confidence at the plate and a tweaked, shorter swing. He put on a show in the minors, with 14 extra-base hits in 15 games, and has continued that impressive streak in his first week back in the majors, with at least one hit in every game. If he wants to continue to hold the confidence of fans and management, he will have to hold up at the plate for much longer than a month, but his defensive ability and offensive potential are enough to grant him some leeway.
Mets fans know as much as anyone how fragile a division lead can be. The flip side to the trauma of blown leads in the past is a feeling that the team is still in the race, and it is very true. However, the team has been inconsistent, taking one step up the stairs then falling down an entire flight. Perhaps Noah Syndergaard will be ready for his debut soon, giving the team another burst of hope for the summer.
Commentary by Brian Moore