The Mets Margin For Error
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It’s pretty obvious the bullpen needs to be better. That’s not to say it’s as bad as it’s made out to be, because it’s not. They’ve changed a lot of the faces in there, including losing Manny Acosta who was responsible for roughly 6 gazillion runs. The bullpen was actually decent in June and I think a case could be made that the Mets under-performed.
The trick is to maximize the wins when you’re doing well, and minimize the losses when you’re not. The Mets had a historically awesome June with pitching, but didn’t capitalize as much as they probably should’ve. Now the Mets are experiencing a little bit of a struggle, and they’re failing to steal any wins. There were plenty of games available for the Mets to steal. That Atlanta series was full of opportunities where one fly ball, or one more strike gets them a win. Where a grounder two feet to the right results in an out and a Mets win. Last night Moore hit a home run that was within a few feet of where David Wright flew out. Josh Edgin walked the leadoff batter, and a stolen base meant that the easy single he gave up cost them a run. Bobby Parnell got Adam LaRoche to ground into the game-ending double play..except the hit and run was on and Ruben Tejada had vacated his spot to cover second.
None of these things excuse the Mets in any way. They’re struggling, and often when you struggle the margin of error is so small that the smallest turn of bad luck can be the difference. The Mets need to win some of these games, but the bigger issue is making sure one stolen base or badly placed grounder doesn’t destroy the entire game. That means scoring more than zero runs through the first 25 outs. I’m not going to start criticizing effort or preparation because I’m woefully unprepared to analyze that from outside the clubhouse, but the Nats pushed the envelope and made things happen and the Mets didn’t. Baseball is hard and sometime it’s just bad luck, but you lose that benefit of the doubt when it starts happening time after time. The Nats bullpen preformed as badly as the Mets did, they just had the benefit of the last turn at-bat. They have a nice lead in the NL East that makes it easier to stomach, and aren’t on a losing streak.
The Mets have now pressed their backs so hard against the wall that you wonder if they’re in a gravitron with the sports reporter vultures circling the clubhouse. While late July is hardly do or die, if the Mets don’t pull out four of six from the Nationals this month, it’s hard to see how they could climb back into the race without some help. A bench right-handed bat and a reliever or two are not going to make a big enough difference. The Mets will sink or swim mainly on the guys they’re playing right now, barring some crazy acquisition by Sandy Alderson like Justin Upton. They are now 3-8 in July after having a winning record in the first three months. They have 14 games left this month. If they can go 10-4 they’ll probably have managed to erase this early swoon, much less than that and they risk pushing themselves to far against the gravitron wall.