PANIC CITY, NY—David Wright is right, there’s no need to open the gates for Panic City after the New York Mets’ 2-3 start to the season, including back-to-back losses to the lowly Phillies at home this past weekend.
But there’s no question that the Mets’ offense needs to improve immediately.
The Mets put up just two runs on Saturday and Sunday combined against Philadelphia, with those runs courtesy of a Yoenis Cespedes two-run home run Sunday afternoon. Otherwise, the offense has looked as dreadful as it did when John Mayberry Jr. was the cleanup hitter last June against Clayton Kershaw.
The only current difference between now and then? Well, last June there was a reason for the offense to be that pitiful — Mayberry Jr. isn’t even in the league anymore. Now, the Mets’ offense is much improved, and there are a plethora of guys who need to step up.
For one, cleanup hitter Lucas Duda holds a major key to the offense’s success. Duda, 30, is in a contract year but hasn’t exactly stormed out of the gate. He’s just 4-for-18 to start this season, hitting a lackluster .222. Duda — who sits behind Cespedes in the Mets’ lineup — slugged .304/.389/.587 in a killer stretch last August, a stretch that was one of the best runs during the Mets’ NL East title quest last season. If Duda can rake from the cleanup spot, it can pay huge dividends for the currently ailing Mets’ lineup.
A year after batting .259 with a stellar .364 OBP, Curtis Granderson is also off to a rocky start, hitting just .050. In fact, the Mets currently have no players hitting over .300. It’s very early, but this will need to change. And it won’t be Neil Walker or Asdrubal Cabrera to worry about, because the Mets know what they will get from those two.
It’s the question marks the Mets had before the season with their lineup that need to be answered. Will Granderson continue to be a valuable leadoff hitter? Can Duda finally hit like he is capable? Can Cespedes duplicate 2015’s success? Can Travis d’Arnaud prove to be a middle of the order — or close to — bat?
We shall see. But for now, these question marks are looking gloomy, at best.
There ars high aspirations in Queens this season, a commodity that hasn’t been common for the Mets. Will they live up to the hype? It won’t be up to the stellar rotation led by Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Bartolo Colon, and eventually Zack Wheeler. And it won’t even be up to the bullpen, which has appeared very good early in the season.
It’ll be up to the same aspect that made the Mets last season: their lineup. So far, the offense hasn’t been there. But if the Amazin’s plan to top the Nationals a second year straight for the NL East crown, that offense will have to awaken from the late rest it has taken since the offseason.
The season is young, but the season is underway.