Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Thinking of Hoisting up the White Flag

With yesterday's dreary loss to the Nationals, the Mets have fallen to a 4-8 record. While being 4 games under .500 wouldn't represent that big of a challenge in a normal year, given the shortness of the season and the complete failures of every starting pitcher not named deGrom or Peterson to put forth an effort that even resembles a quality start, this season feels like it's slipping away fast.

The way I figure it, the only way the Mets can put together a solid stretch of play to offset the hole they've managed to dig for themselves is to get the consistent starting pitching over a stretch of games that has eluded them up to now. I'm not sure where it's going to come from. Porcello has an ERA of 13.50, having allowed 12 hits and 6 walks over 6 innings pitched. That's an average of 3 baserunners each and every inning, folks. After looking solid in his first start against the Red Sox, Michael Wacha buried the Mets early in his second start against Atlanta, allowing 5 runs over 4 bad innings. Steven Matz has pitched worse in every start this season, culminating in yesterday's 3 inning effort.

So, going forward, I ask myself what I'm pinning my hopes upon. I guess I'm hoping for deGrom to get some freaking runs, for Stroman to make it back fairly soon and be ready to pitch well, for David Peterson to keep performing, and for someone out of that Matz, Wacha and Porcello group to step up and at least not bury the Mets in their starts. Then I'll need the bullpen to be better and the lineup to figure out how to get some runners home. It's not impossible, but it does feel like a lot.

As much as Céspedes was struggling, as long as he was in the lineup there was always a chance that he could go on a tear and carry the team for a couple of weeks. Robbie Cano discovers his lost batting stroke and gets a grade 2 groin strain. I read that Luis Rojas is hoping that he doesn't miss much more than the minimum 10 games on the injury list. I guess it's nice to have happy thoughts, but a 37-year-old guy with a grade 2 strain is generally looking at more than a minimum amount of time away. If you try to rush back from a groin injury you stand a good chance of reinjuring the muscle. I wouldn't be shocked if Cano missed a month or longer with this injury. Even if he makes it back sooner than that, he'll probably need to find his stroke all over again.

There probably are enough bats left on this team minus Céspedes and Cano that they could be competitive going forward, but a lot is going to have to start going right for a team that hasn't managed to get much of anything going in their favor early on. I want to believe that it will all happen, but I don't see it. 

I guess if there is one thing that I could hang my hopes on is that this team has some track record of getting off to bad starts and then turning it around. The problem is that this is a 2 month season and there isn't a lot of time to waste waiting for a turnaround to happen. At the very least, the Mets are going to have to start playing some .500 ball and not go digging a deeper hole for themselves.

I guess I'm fairly pessimistic about the team this year, more so than in normal years. Maybe it's the pandemic and all of the disruption it's caused and continues to cause. Maybe it's just been too many years of watching too many bad Mets teams. I don't know.

I guess the biggest gripe I have with the way things have gone so far is how many of the games have been outright boring. They follow a pattern: fall behind early, squander scoring chances, some questionable choices by the manager, all adding up to another disheartening loss. Like yesterday, when even a 2-run deficit seemed like a huge mountain to climb. I'm not sure what was less compelling yesterday, the rain delay or the last 4 innings for the Mets. Even when they get a couple of guys on it doesn't feel like a rally.

Other than being outright bad, I can't think of anything worse for a Mets team to be than just boring. At least be feisty and interesting to watch. Even beyond the awful losses like blowing the big lead against the Braves, I haven't found myself really getting into the games all that much. I'm sure some of that's due to the lack of fans in the stands and the weirdness of it all. Still, I feel if I want to care more about what's happening when I'm watching these games. It would help if they were more fun to watch. It's one thing when you're team is struggling, it's quite another when they're also just plain dull.

Anyway, that's it for me today. Despite the title I haven't completely given up on this season, but it's not going to take much more of this kind of baseball to get me to where I don't want to be. I would very much appreciate if the Mets gave me a reason to feel some optimism about them again. We'll hold onto that hope for now.

Please stay safe, be well and take care. Talk soon.

 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

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