So why the second half swoons? What has befallen this Mets team that’s kept them from playing as good baseball as they played the first half? Why does this seem to be a theme, year to year?
I wrote about the Mets margin of error a month ago, and they haven’t played much better since. I think this plays in to the second half; when it’s time to make adjustments and tweaks for the second half, the Mets haven’t done so. Part of this is lack of depth for sure, the Mets in recent years haven’t had enough players to cover injuries, sometimes guys having strong starts don’t adjust when the league starts adjusting to what they’re doing.
The Mets were playing the line between winning and losing so close that a couple of adjustments, injuries, or slumps ended up ruining their season. Such as when David Wright stopped hitting for two, or when Dillon Gee went down. I think Gee’s blood clot in the shoulder may have been more demoralizing than people think. It’s one thing when a teammates hurts himself giving it his all on the field, but to come up with a sudden medical malady? I could see how that could jar you out of the competitive nature of a game when life interjects. Nieuwenhuis stopped hitting, Duda struggled and even Davis didn’t ride out the hot streak long enough to make up for his bad April and May.
The Mets played very well in June, but I might make the case that they underperformed. They had one of the best pitching staffs in June, with R.A. Dickey doing historic things, and managed to lose a couple of games they probably should’ve won. The bullpen was not horrible in June either. Perhaps if they’d gone into the All-Star Break a couple of games better they would’ve come out of it with a different attitude and focus and maybe would’ve fared differently. Maybe not.
It seems clear to me that the good teams made adjustments and the Mets either didn’t have the talent, ability, or preparation to make counter adjustments. They got hit with good teams coming out of the break and ended up getting knocked out. Some of it’s injury and depth. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is a good example of this. Perhaps if Andres Torres has stayed healthy, Kirk would’ve come up in July instead and he’d have added an offensive jolt at that time instead of tailing off. The Mets had no other outfielders to call up as Jason Bay, Nieuwenhuis, and Lucas Duda struggled. They had no counter-attack. They had options in the bullpen, but those options ended up being almost as ineffective as the guys they replaced.
The Mets had some talent, but it turned out that more of the flaws caught up with them than talent shining through. With just one or two players having a little big more impact, it feels like the Mets might have weathered the storm. Having the Kirk Nieuwenhuis of April and May over the Jason Bay of July and August almost seems like it might have been the difference between the 77 win Mets and the 87 win Mets. This is definitely over-simplifying it, but perhaps the Mets are only a couple of adjustments away from being consistently good. It’s certainly going to be an interesting offseason to see what adjustments the Mets end up making. There’s a lot of baseball still to be watched this season, and some of these guys may be playing for a job next year.