The 2015 season has been one of hope for the New York Mets franchise. They feature one of the best young rotations in baseball with superstar Matt Harvey returning and a full season of budding ace Jacob deGrom with two younger top prospects in Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz waiting in the wings. When Dillon Gee struggled and found himself on the DL early in the season Syndergaard got the call-up and has shown flashes of brilliance thus far in his career. Reports state that Matz is not far away from getting the call either and should be with the big club at some point this season. The rotation has been solid thus far with as the Mets have the tenth best starting pitcher ERA in baseball. The bullpen led by Jeurys Familia has been a revelation posting the sixth best ERA thus far.
However, despite this fantastic pitching the team finds themselves just one game over .500 as of today. The biggest reason for this has been the struggles of the offense. The Mets have scored only 260 thus far good for fifth fewest in baseball. There have been a number of reasons for the team’s poor performance most notably an injury to David Wright as well as an injury to catcher Travis d’Arnaud early in the season when the young catcher was playing extremely well. d’Arnaud has since returned and has continued his solid offensive performance, hitting just below .300 on the year. Wilmer Flores has been another young bright spot as the young shortstop has shown great power with ten home runs good for a tie for first on the team with Lucas Duda. The question is can this team hit enough to make a run at a Wild Card postseason birth?
There a number of teams that will be competing for the two final playoff spots with the main competitors likely being two of the NL Central teams the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants from the NL West. The Cardinals currently lead the division while the other three teams are in front of the Mets at the moment for the Wild Card. Many around the game think the Mets need to make a move and add an offensive middle of the order type especially with Wright’s return a major question mark for the rest of the year.
Doing so, however, would likely cost them one of their top young arms and for this reason I do not think it is a route they should go. Trading an arm would weaken a strength of their team and take away their rotation depth which is a major reason why they are competitive to begin with. The Mets could possibly make a trade for a lower tier bat come the trade deadline if Wright cannot return. One possible target could be a guy like Gordon Beckham as the White Sox are struggling mightily this season and Beckham can play both second and third if needed. However, Beckham does not figure to be much of an upgrade over the team’s current options. Daniel Murphy is beginning to return to his .280+ form and Ruben Tejada has been performing well at the plate while filling in at third.
In my opinion the best plan of attack for the Mets is to stay the course with the current offense. The power from last season has not been there for Duda, but it is not difficult to see him once again reaching the 25+ homer level. Offseason signing Michael Cuddyer has performed well below his career levels in power and average and should see those numbers begin to rise as the season goes on. Most of the other guys in the lineup have been performing similarly to what was expected of them before the season so there is not much room for growth for the team. Chances are this will continue to be a below average lineup all season but the positive news for the team is that a bottom ten offense has made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. The 2014 Cardinals and 2013 Pirates both were ranked in the bottom ten in the MLB in runs scored.
The Mets certainly have the pitching to make a playoff push and they have another high impact arm soon to join the rotation. The offense has the players to justify growth as the season goes on and while it will never carry the team to a playoff berth there is precedent for a below average offenses coupled with elite pitching staff — the Cardinals and Pirates were tenth and third in the MLB in team ERA — to make the playoffs.