It was easy to assign blame for Wednesday night’s debacle to Jeurys Familia, who blew a save in a Jacob deGrom start for the third time this year. Familia allowed two runs in the ninth inning as the team clung to a 1-0 lead, ruining what would have been a solid win behind deGrom’s usual brilliance. As bad as the loss was, however, the bullpen has been the least of the team’s problems this season. The Mets’ pen has a 3.75 ERA and a 4.07 FIP, which are middle-of-the-pack numbers but hardly worth sounding the alarm over.
The Mets’ offensive struggles, which have plagued the team for much of the season, have been a much bigger problem. In the month of May, the Mets rank second-to-last in the baseball with 60 runs and 24th with an 89 wRC+.
The struggles have largely come against some of baseball’s worst pitching staffs, which makes them all the more worrisome. Earlier this month, the Mets took on the Cincinnati Reds, who have a 4.82 team ERA that’s among the worst in the National League. In that three-game set, the Mets scored ten runs in total.
After scoring in each of the first five innings against Cincinnati, the Mets were only able to score in two of the final 22 innings. They went 23-for-103 (.223) and racked up 30 strikeouts. As a result, they left Great American Ball Park with just one win against the last-place Reds.
The recently-completed series against the Marlins was equally troubling. The Mets mustered only four runs and 19 hits against the Marlins and their 4.92 team ERA. Miami came into the series with the worst bullpen ERA in the National League (5.60), yet the Mets scored zero earned runs and collected just seven hits in eight-and-one-third innings against their ‘pen. Marlins closer Brad Ziegler, who entered with a 7.20 ERA, easily disposed of the Mets’ hitters en route to picking up saves on Tuesday and Wednesday. Overall, the Mets went just 19-for-92 (.207) against Miami. It’s a miracle that they were able to win the one game.
While it’s easy to blame the recent struggles on the absence of Todd Frazier and Yoenis Cespedes from the lineup, the team still has plenty of major league talent that isn’t living up to expectations.
Jay Bruce, who the team re-signed in the offseason to provide power to the middle of the lineup, remains stuck on three home runs. Michael Conforto, who returned earlier than expected from his shoulder injury, has gotten off to a slow start and still has just a .222/.340/.349 line.
Amed Rosario has struggled to put together any consistent success this year, hitting just .253/.276/.363. While he is still young and has a lot of room to grow, the Mets will need him to pick it up. The Mets, who view themselves as a win-now team, can’t afford growing pains from youngsters like Rosario and Conforto, as unfair as that is to them.
Worse yet, the Mets have a farm system that is devoid of young players at the higher levels who can make an immediate offensive impact in the near future. This reality has forced the Mets to depend far too heavily on the likes of Jose Reyes and Adrian Gonzalez to contribute in a meaningful way to the team, with Jose Bautista joining the list when the team signed him the other day. On the upside, Gonzalez has put up a better-than-expected line of .263/.336/.415 with a 108 wRC+.
Things aren’t easier for the Mets now, as they take on the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves on the road before returning home to face the Chicago Cubs, though the team plated five runs last night in Milwaukee to open that four-game series. All three teams have pitched well this year, and it’s worth noting that the Mets scored two runs in three games against Atlanta earlier this month with Cespedes and Frazier holding down the middle of the lineup.
There is no quick fix for what ails the Mets’ offense. For better or for worse, the onus will fall on the players who are on the active roster right now. The Mets need Bruce, Conforto, and the rest to find their groove and start playing like they’re capable of playing.