The Mets Are Digging Themselves an Early Hole

The New York Mets likely didn’t expect themselves to be in this position at the season’s quarter pole. After their latest series loss at the hands of the NL East bottom-feeding Washington Nationals, the Mets are now fourth in the same division at 20-23. After a decent start, New York has struggled mightily during what was supposed to be a relatively easy stretch of their schedule. This all results in an early hole for the Mets, who sit 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves. While there’s a lot of season to go, these losses against subpar teams are starting to pile up. If the Mets barely miss the postseason, they may look back on this stretch as their biggest what-if.

The Mets’ Early Hole in the NL East

The Mets got off to a fairly hot start in April. Through 21 games, they were 14-7, only half a game out of first place. They then lost six of their next eight games, against the San Francisco Giants, Nationals, and Braves. Despite this knocking the Mets back to 16-13, the next part of their schedule looked like a juicy opportunity to rack up wins.

They would play the Detroit Tigers (10-17 coming into the series), Colorado Rockies (12-20 coming in), Cincinnati Reds (14-20), and Nationals (16-21). Instead of shoring up their record against weaker competition, the Mets looked like the inferior team for most of the last two weeks. They suffered a sweep in Detroit, lost two of three to the Rockies, two of three to the Reds, and split four games with the Nats. With Tuesday’s series-opening loss to the major league-leading Tampa Bay Rays, the Mets remain in dire straits.

This is certainly a disappointment for a supposed contender this season. Luckily, the Mets’ early hole is not a death sentence. Most of the NL East is also struggling, with every team except Atlanta under .500. Not a lot separates the Mets from second place, so they could easily work themselves back into the wild card race before challenging Atlanta. Still, it is perplexing why New York is off to such a sluggish start. There may be a couple of key factors at play.

Inside the Mets’ Struggles

One major factor behind the Mets’ early hole is the underperformance of their lineup. This is reminiscent of the second half of 2021, where the lineup seemed to take two months off. Lately, they have been falling behind by multiple runs early and spending the rest of the game trying to claw back. More often than not, they are failing to complete a comeback. Almost the whole lineup is collectively struggling. Notable names in the doldrums at the moment include Francisco Lindor (.224/.306/.418 slash line), Starling Marte (.236/.296/.286), and Mark Canha (.231/.299/.377). Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo are the two top producers, but they can’t carry the offense by themselves.

Another issue for the Mets is their lack of pitching depth. Their biggest offseason signing, Justin Verlander, missed the first month with a teres major strain. Another pitching acquisition, Jose Quintana, still hasn’t pitched this year due to a rib injury. Carlos Carrasco is on the IL with an elbow injury. Max Scherzer‘s suspension caused him to miss a start. These are all crucial injuries to the Mets’ rotation, not to mention All-Star closer Edwin Diaz being out for the season. If their rotation can get healthy, the Mets won’t have to rely as much on younger pitchers to eat innings. They will need to hope that happens sooner rather than later and the lineup can start driving in runs. Losing to sub-.500 teams will not help the Mets get to October, so they’ll need to correct that trend quickly.


Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Players Mentioned: Francisco Lindor, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo, Justin Verlander, Jose Quintana, Carlos Carrasco, Max Scherzer, Edwin Diaz