It’s been a long and trying season for the New York Mets. Expectations of a World Series getting blown up in smoke, and the team is now in a different position than they imagined they would be. If you were to tell the Mets they would be out of contention in the middle of August with the Atlanta Braves coming to town, they wouldn’t believe you. Now, the Mets, after selling off the season along with two future Hall of Fame pitchers traded, are in a bit of a rebuild. Too many things led to this. Bad management, inconsistent pitching and offense, lousy defense, and errors. You name it. However, through all the bad, there is some good. So, let’s look at some of the notable positives of this Mets season.
Three Positive Takeaways of the 2023 Mets
Let’s start with the best free agent acquisition New York made in the offseason, Kodai Senga. They brought him in as the third starter after Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Eventually, when their times as Mets were done, he would take over as the staff’s ace. Sports, and especially baseball, make their own rules. Verlander would miss the season’s first month with an injury, and Scherzer struggled out of the gate. Leaving Senga to carry a floundering rotation also saw Tylor Megill, Carlos Carrasco, and David Peterson struggle. Senga has proven to be up to the challenge.
In 21 starts, Senga is 8-6 with a 3.24 ERA with 142 strikeouts in 116 innings pitched. His 142 strikeouts brought stability and consistency in his first year as a Met. The ghost fork pitch has taken the league by storm and is almost unhittable.
NL ERA leaders among starters:— SNY Mets (@SNY_Mets) August 8, 2023
1. Blake Snell (2.61)
2. Justin Steele (2.68)
3. KODAI SENGA (3.24) pic.twitter.com/7vO8ZVs6NA
Highest whiff% on an individual pitch this season (min. 200 swings vs. pitch):— Mathew Brownstein (@MBrownstein89) August 8, 2023
Kodai Senga’s FORKBALL: 58.9%
Spencer Strider’s SLIDER: 57.1%
Shane McClanahan’s CHANGEUP: 54.1%@Metsmerized #Mets #LGM pic.twitter.com/pkbDI9DjGR
With Scherzer and Verlander now traded, Senga’s development into an ace will be asked to go quicker than originally planned. These last two months will be big for him as he continues onto year two. So far in year one, he’s been everything the Mets could’ve asked him to be.
Seventeen years. Seventeen years and a lot of catchers to finally get to Francisco Álvarez. Post-Mike Piazza was a brutal era for Mets catchers but Álvarez has emerged as one of the best catchers in baseball this season. Giving the Mets a power bat they’ve been searching for. His 21 home runs are third on the team, and he leads all catchers in home runs. Even coming through in the clutch when the Mets needed it.
Now it’s Francisco Álvarez’s moment. Two innings after Mark Vientos’ game-tying, two-run homer, Álvarez hits a game-tying three-run homer. Wow.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) May 18, 2023
Mets 5, Rays 5, bottom nine. pic.twitter.com/QBr1AUOet1
A moment every little kid dreams of came true for Francisco Alvarez. 👏 pic.twitter.com/pttgiSkyJ6— MLB (@MLB) July 6, 2023
Álvarez and Senga, for that matter, should both be in the running for National League Rookie of the Year when all is said and done. As with Senga, Álvarez must finish these last two months strong. Mets fans are and should be very excited for this duo in the future.
General Manager Billy Eppler made a trade to acquire Brooks Raley in the offseason. He was a pitcher coming off his best season in 2022 with the Tampa Bay Rays. His career ERA was 5,62 before going to 2.68 with Tampa Bay. While that would concern teams if that were a one-year thing, the Mets needed a left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen. They hoped that Raley could continue that trajectory, and so far, he has. Originally, brought in as a late-inning guy to help bridge the gap with Edwin Díaz. His role changed when Díaz got hurt. He split parts with Adam Ottavino as the setup man to David Robertson, but then Robertson got traded to the Miami Marlins, which inserted Raley into the closer mix.
This year, Raley’s era is at a 2.48, better than the previous year in Tampa. Striking out 45 batters in 40 innings pitched. He has become a reliable lefty that the Mets haven’t had in a while. Raley was in the conversation of trade interest at the deadline, but the Mets decided to hold onto him. With New York’s bullpen in flux, keeping Raley around was a wise choice. He’s been rock solid this season, and in 2024 Raley can be inserted back into his original spot in the bullpen with a returning Díaz.
Main Photo Credits: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports