Mets Losing Ground Fast in NL East Race

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Following a months-long stretch atop the NL East, the New York Mets now find themselves in a dangerous tailspin. A lifeless 3-0 loss on Sunday to Zack Wheeler and the Philadelphia Phillies¬†capped a disastrous week for New York, losers of seven of their last eight overall. Losing six of those games to the division-rival Phillies and Miami¬†Marlins has knocked the Mets back into third in the NL East race. The offensive woes continue, and two of the Mets’ most important hitters, Javier Baez and Pete Alonso, have looked particularly lost at the plate. Luckily, the Mets’ pitching staff continues to perform well despite remaining shorthanded. Unfortunately, that hasn’t led to wins lately, so the offense needs a quick rebound before the season is lost.

Mets’ Recent Losing Skid

The last time the Mets were seemingly riding high was their 5-4 comeback win over the Cincinnati Reds on July 31st. Since then, they lost the series finale to Cincinnati, three of four to Miami, and all three to Philadelphia. One constant through all of these recent losses has been a lack of production at the plate. The Mets only scored five or more runs once this week (their only win).

Javier Baez, who immediately made his mark with a homer in his Mets debut, has looked lost since then. In his last six games, he is 4-for-23 (.174) with 10 strikeouts and a .513 OPS. The Mets are counting on him to straighten things out at the plate, but he may have to wait. Baez exited Sunday’s game with hip tightness and is now considered day-to-day.

Pete Alonso has looked even worse at the plate lately. Over the last six games, he has gone 0-for-19, although he has walked eight times. One at-bat during Saturday’s loss served as a particularly stark example of Alonso’s recent struggles. The Mets opened the ninth inning with three straight homers and had the go-ahead runs on base against Ian Kennedy. With one out, Alonso proceeded to wave and miss at three straight low-90s fastballs in the strike zone. With the rally’s momentum gone, J.D. Davis struck out right after to end the game. Alonso’s slump follows a brief power surge following his Home Run Derby win. The Mets and their fans would hope there’s a quick mental/mechanical fix for Pete, and no physical issues.

NL East Outlook

The Mets’ slide has unfortunately coincided with hot streaks by two division rivals. The Phillies have won eight straight, capped by their sweep of the Mets. In that time, they’ve gone from three and a half games back to two and a half ahead of New York. Meanwhile, the Ronald Acuna-less Atlanta Braves have managed to win seven of their last 10 to sneak half a game in front of the Mets. If things continue like this, even in the short term, the Mets could be in an unmanageable hole with under two months to play. A wild card berth will be tough to grab given the strength of the NL West, so winning the division is paramount this season.

The pitching staff has continued to perform despite the absence of Jacob deGrom. Since that still isn’t helping them to win, it is clear the offense must wake up soon. It is certainly up to Baez and Alonso to snap out of their short-term funks. However, guys like Michael Conforto and James McCann, who have each struggled for long stretches this year, need to start picking the stars up when they don’t perform. Getting Francisco Lindor back would definitely help, especially if his offensive output improves. The Mets are in the most precarious spot they’ve been all year. With a long stretch against tough NL West competition approaching, they must figure out how to score again. If the Mets don’t fix their losing ways, they will quickly find their playoff hopes on life support.

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Players Mentioned:

Zack Wheeler, Javier Baez, Pete Alonso, Ian Kennedy, J.D. Davis, Jacob deGrom, Michael Conforto, James McCann, Francisco Lindor