Following a remarkable April, the New York Mets have stumbled out of the gate in May. The starting pitching, who carried the team for so long, has slipped up in the first two games of the new month. After a MLB-best 26 straight starts to last at least 5 innings, in each of the last two games the starting pitcher failed to get through the 5th. Bartolo Colon pitched 4.2 allowing 7 earned runs and Zack Wheeler pitched 4 allowing 6 earned runs.
Why the sudden and alarming turnaround? First it could be that the rainout game in Philly threw the starters out of sync. People would think an extra day of rest would be good but these pitchers have their schedules and their routines and if they are thrown off by something like a rainout, it can mess with their rhythm.
Second, the Mets are playing four games in the hitter-friendly Coors Field in Denver. Thin air helps the ball to travel further. This is not a phenomenon that Mets pitchers typically have to deal with. However, that should be an adjustment made pre game along with scouting reports.
Third, the Rockies are a very good hitting team. Between Charlie Blackmon and Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies have two players among the league leaders in batting average. Couple that with power bats like Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Justin Mourneau and the thin air and they’re going to score a bunch of runs.
Another, perhaps bigger issue is that the offense has not supported the pitching. Even in Colorado, where the runs flow easier, the Mets have averaged only 3.5 runs per game compared to the 8.5 they allowed. While the offense has not put up huge numbers all season, if the starting pitching falters, as it would have to eventually, there just isn’t the pop in the lineup to carry a team. If the power starts to appear consistently then there may be an improvement but until that happens the fate of the team will rest on the Mets young arms…and Bartolo Colon.
Now comes a big test that we haven’t seen so far this season. Which pitcher is going to be the stopper? Who steps up to stop the slide and get the team back on the right track.? Jenrry Mejia and Dillon Gee will pitch the last two games against Colorado before the team heads to Miami. Mejia will look to bounce back from a rough start against the Marlins while Gee looks to continue his hot pitching.
And should the rotation continue to falter, help could be on the way fairly soon. Rafael Montero, Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard are all waiting in the wings for their chance. After seeing the strategies with young pitchers in the last two years, the Mets are likely to wait as long as they can before pulling the trigger on their prospects.
As good as the pitching was in April it was only inevitable before somebody slipped up. The surprise was at how disastrous got and how quickly. Mets fans hope that this is just a hiccup and that the team bounces back, but only time can determine that.
The team has two more games against the Rockies before heading to Miami for three against the division rival Marlins.