The Mets are in first place in the NL East despite suffering some injuries to start the season.
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By Cordell Oberholtzer
As the classic Queen song goes, “another one bites the dust.” This could also serve as the April refrain for the New York Mets. On Tuesday, third baseman David Wright was placed on the 15-day DL due to a strained hamstring. Wright joins the growing list of players for the Mets that are currently not contributing to the play on the field. While expectations for the Mets were conservative going into this season, the setbacks have not made it easier for them.
A season after losing ace Matt Harvey to Tommy John surgery, the Mets received the disheartening news that their other young starter Zack Wheeler would miss 2015 due to the same procedure. Wheeler, in his first full season last year, posted a 11-11 record with a 3.54 ERA in 2014 and was 6th in the league with 9.1 SO/9 IP. Thankfully for the Mets, they have 2014 N.L. Rookie of the Year Jake deGrom in their staff along with Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, and of course Harvey.
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Harvey, so far this season, has looked like he never left. In two starts so far he has allowed three earned runs in 12 innings of work with 17 strikeouts. Though the numbers are good, he has shown that he isn’t fully in mid-season form, but that’s okay as most pitchers aren’t at this point. Most teams can go pretty well with only one really good ace (first one that comes to mind is ’09 Phillies with Cliff Lee) so while the loss of Wheeler is huge, the Mets have a deep enough staff that they should not miss the playoffs due to starting pitching.
In the bullpen side, 25-year old closer Jenrry Mejia has been suspended by Major League Baseball for 80 games because of PED violations. Last year as the Mets closer, Mejia recorded 28 saves (with several starts mixed in). While Mejia didn’t post All-Star numbers, the Mets must rely on the inexperienced Jeurys Familia who only has one full year under belt. However, he pitched well last year posting a 2.21 ERA in 76 appearances. Again, while the Mets will miss Mejia for the first half of the year, Familia should be sufficient on an interim basis.
Another reliever that has been lost to Tommy John surgery is Josh Edgin, the 28-year old lefty who in limited action (27.1 innings) in 2014 posted a spectacular 1.32 ERA and a WHIP of 0.915. So far in 2015, the substitutes in the pen haven’t blown the world away. Rafael Montero and Alex Torres have struggled, while Familia has been a little shaky. The bullpen is something to continue to watch with this Mets team and it remains to be seen if they can plug the holes effectively for the entirety of a long season.
However the weakness on this team is the offense. In 2014, the Mets finished 12th in the National League in team batting average (.239) and while the addition of outfielder Michael Cuddyer will help, the Mets still have a lot to prove with the bats. The injury bug has already hit the Mets when David Wright strained his hamstring and was sent to the 15-day disabled list earlier this week. Wright was off to a good start in 2015, posting a .333 batting average, one homer, and four RBI. The Mets recalled Eric Campbell from the minors to fill in the the veteran Wright. Campbell has his arms full trying to fill in for the franchise’s all-time leader in offensive WAR, runs, hits, total bases, RBI, and doubles (he is second in home runs behind Darryl Strawberry).
So far though, catcher Travis d’Arnaud and first baseman Lucas Duda have put up good numbers. Curtis Granderson, however, continues to fail to live up to his four-year, $60 million contract that runs through 2017. But after saying all that about injuries and under performing players, the Mets still find themselves in first place in the National League East through 10 games. Granted, they just completed a three-game sweep against the hapless Phillies and the Nationals are sure to right the ship before too long, but the Mets appear poised to be in the conversation late into the summer months injuries or not.