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Mets Finding Their Way During Power Outage

The Mets have won 8 of their last 11 games despite a slow start at the plate. To do this they’ve had to use a bit of luck, a dose of small ball, and some quality pitching.

As Opening Day approached, the general outlook on the Mets was that they would need to rely on their strong offense given their suspect starting pitching and unpredictable bullpen. It was understandable for people to think this. Last year’s team, despite its challenges, finished fourth in the National League on home runs, with 215. They had four players with at least 24 long balls, and additional 3 in double figures. While virtually nobody expected the Mets to match the offensive output of the Braves’ deep lineup, it was reasonable to think they’d be amongst the tops in the league.

So far, that hasn’t been the case. Of those 4 players with 24+ home runs in 2023, only Pete Alonso, who had 46 a years ago, has been able to display similar power, with 6 in the team’s first 16 games. Francisco Lindor (31 home runs last season), Francisco Alvarez (25), and Brandon Nimmo (24) have combined for 3 so far this season – 2 by Nimmo, 1 by Alvarez, and none from Lindor. It’s likely that all three of these players will turn on the power at some point, possibly even soon. Additionally, it’s only a matter of time before JD Martinez, another 30+ home run hitter from a year ago, declares himself ready to join the team.  Until then, the Mets will continue to bide their time by relying on what’s gotten them back to .500 after their 0-5 start.

For many (and I mean MANY) decades, baseball teams on a hot streak have credited their success to “good pitching and timely hitting.” While the Mets streak isn’t quite there yet, it isn’t that far off. For the most part, the pitching’s been there. Even when the starting pitcher may not be his sharpest, the bullpen has generally picked him up. The pitching has definitely been good. And while it may at times be even better than good, such as Jose Butto’s 6 shutout innings on Sunday, it’s rarely been worse than good. On the other side, while the hitting hasn’t been especially timely, the team has certainly been putting themselves in the right position to score. In Sunday’s game, the Mets had at least two runners on base in five straight innings (from the 4th through the 8th). The Royals pitchers kept them off the board for the first four of those innings, until a Harrison Bader infield single drove home the first run. That was followed by a Brandon Nimmo bases loaded walk, and that was it. Those were the two Mets runs. Not the most electrifying way to bring runners home, and still, it worked as the Mets held on to win 2-1.

The trend continued in Monday night’s game as well, as the Mets came up to bat in 8 frames and never once had a 1-2-3 inning. Still, it wasn’t until they were down 3-0 in the 6th inning that they turned those baserunners into runs scored. Even then, it was a series of singles, a walk, and a sacrifice fly that netted them their first 2 runs. A clutch 2-out extra-base hit by DJ Stewart was the highlight of the inning. That tied the game at 3, and it stayed that way until a somewhat similar rally in the bottom of the 8th. In that one, the first Mets runner, Jeff McNeil, got to first base after outrunning a wild pitch on a strikeout. This was followed by a Stewart walk, then a double steal(!), and then the biggest hit of the night, a double by Bader that put the Mets up 5-3. A Bader steal of third and a Brandon Nimmo fielder’s choice (in which Bader just made it ahead of the tag) made the score 6-3. These may not be end-of-the-season sizzle reel moments, but they got the job done.

One thing to notice throughout all of this is that, as a team, the Mets strikeouts are down. While last year’s batters finished in the middle of the pack in National League strikeouts, so far in 2024 they have the second fewest K’s in the NL. Consistently putting the ball in play doesn’t guarantee runs, however, it certainly doesn’t hurt.

If the Mets can continue to put themselves in run-scoring positions, and then continue to put the bat on the ball once they do, it will only be a matter of time until their offense meets the preseason expectations. As long as we’re playing that game though, it may only be a matter of time until their pitching follows suit.

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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