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Mets Enjoying Late Bloomer Approach

After dropping their first 5 to open the season, the New York Mets have won 10 of their last 13 by feasting on opponents’ relievers.

Do you remember that Mets game when they fell behind and the opposing starting pitcher held them lifeless for the first half of the game, only to have them come back against the bullpen? If that sounds like most of their 10 wins to you, you’re not wrong.

When the Mets dropped the opening game of a double-header against the Tigers on April 4th, it not only dropped them to 0-5 on the season, it also drove home the notion that the entire offense was slumping. At that point, the only other things being driven were disappointed fans.  Those first 5 games featured a shutout and two 1-run games, one of which being a 1-hitter. Beginning late in the second game of that double-header, things changed…slightly. As with the other games to that point in the season, the Mets bats were dormant for most of their 6th game, until Pete Alonso’s game-tying home run against Tigers reliver Alex Faedo seemed to wake them up a little. The Polar Bear’s blast was followed by a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a game-winning single.

The next night, the Mets were held scoreless through the first 4 in Cincinnati before breaking through against Reds starter Hunter Greene for one run in the 6th. The Mets brought in their next runs, one run each in the 7th and 8th innings, against relievers Fernando Cruz and Emilio Pagan, respectively. Their next win was a 3-1 victory over the Reds in which they scored all 3 runs against the Reds starter, Andrew Abbott. It was the Mets 9th game of the season, and the first time the opposing starting pitcher took the loss. It was also the first time the Mets starting pitched got the win.

In the first game in Atlanta, the Mets fell behind 4-0 after 3 innings until they erupted for 4 runs against Braves starter Charlie Morton. After falling behind again, however, they broke out for another 4 runs against relievers AJ Minter and Pierce Johnson. The final game of that series was something of an anomaly, as the Mets poured in 16 runs, scoring off the Braves starter (Allan Winans), 2 relievers (Dylan Lee and Tyler Matzek), and an infielder (former Mets player, Luis Guillorme) who took one for the team. At that point, it was safe to wonder if the Mets bats had finally caught up to the rest of the team.

The subsequent homestand didn’t do much to support that idea, even though the Mets went 5-1 against the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates. The opening game against the Royals was probably the Mets most solid game so far in 2024. Even though they fell behind in the 2nd innings, they tied it in the 3rd, took the lead in the 4th, and remained in control for the second half of the game. After losing the second game of the series, the Mets faced off against Royals starter Cole Ragans in the third game. Ragans has been living up to high expectations in his first few starts and Sunday’s appearance only kept that going. Ragans pitched 6 innings of shutout ball on Sunday, and was matched by Mets starter, Jose Butto. It wasn’t until the bottom of the 8th, with the Mets facing Chris Stratton, the Royals second reliever of the day, that they mounted a rally to take a 2-0 lead in an eventual 2-1 win. That rally was built on the smallest of small ball, as it took 3 walks, a sacrifice bunt, and a swinging bunt to get the Mets their first run, and then a fourth walk to bring home the second.

In all 3 games against the Pirates, the Mets had to come from behind to win. In the first two games, they scored their winning runs against Pirates relievers. In the third game, Pirates starter, Bailey Falter, took the loss, giving up 2 runs in 5 innings. However, it was the bullpen’s ineffectiveness that allowed the Mets to put the game away in an eventual 9-1 victory.

In the modern approach to baseball, with starting pitchers rarely going 6 innings, often going just 4 or 5, a team’s success hinges on their bullpen more than ever before. The Mets bullpen has been remarkably solid all season, even in their first 5 losses. In the meantime, their offense, which has not been especially powerful yet, has been able to make things happen once the opposing starter has hit the showers. This may not be the way most teams would draw it up, for the Mets though, it seems to be working.

Shai Kushner
Shai Kushnerhttps://mlbreport.com/
Shai Kushner, is a seasoned sports journalist and versatile professional deeply embedded in the world of baseball. Since 2014, Shai has been a trusted voice covering the New York Mets for BaseballDigest.com and GothamBaseball.com. Before his journalism career, he served as a video engineer for the Mets Baseball Operations department.


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