The New York Mets recently welcomed back some key players from the disabled list and have since won five out of six games. After a disappointing start to 2017, driven in large part by injuries, the Mets clubhouse is starting to look like the team the front office envisioned coming into this season. As the dust settles on these tumultuous first few months, is it too late for a healthy Mets team to make the playoffs for the third year in a row?
The Mets are currently 30-34, which puts them in second place in the NL East and 8.5 games behind the Washington Nationals, and 9.5 games back in the Wild Card race.
Their starting pitching, the bedrock upon which Citi Field was built these past few years, has been a weakness so far this season.. Steven Matz and Seth Lugo started the year on the disabled list, and Noah Syndergaard joined them a few weeks later, forcing the Mets to rely on a rotating cast of minor league call ups, spot starters, and waiver pickups. Matt Harvey continues to search for the magic that made him so dominant during his early years, and Jacob deGrom has his rockiest season so far as a professional.
Matz and Lugo returned to start back-to-back games on June 10 and 11, each going seven innings and allowing only one earned run in Mets wins. Their return allows them to move Robert Gsellman back into the bullpen, which has been taxed heavily during the early season and also lost closer Jeurys Familia.
Yoenis Cespedes also returned on June 10. There isn’t a team in the majors that wouldn’t be improved by adding Cespedes to the roster, but the truth is the Mets offense did not skip a beat during his six weeks on the DL. They rank sixth in the NL in OPS, third in home runs, and seventh in runs scored. His return makes their clustered outfield even more complicated. Cespedes, white hot Jay Bruce, and Michael Conforto are all having excellent offensive seasons, but none of them are natural center fielders. Juan Lagares is back in the mix after an uneven couple seasons but is not a major offensive threat, and Curtis Granderson can play CF but is also an offensive hole in a Mets lineup that already is papering over the presence of Jose Reyes and his .187 batting average.
Around this same time last year, the Mets were 34-29 and eventually took a .500 record into late August before making an improbably Wild Card run with an injury ravaged roster. Considering all the team has been through so far this season, the current Mets record of 30-34 is not a disaster. They have the talent and the depth to overcome their mediocre start and make a run at their third straight playoff appearance. The NL East crown might be a bit of a stretch, but you can expect these Mets – if they remain healthy – to again compete for the Wild Card.