Tha Sports Junkies 101

Don’t Met on It: Why N.L. Champs Won’t Make Postseason

Keith Allison/Via


As I sat in Row 16 of Section 508, one row from the top of Citi Field, I along with every other Mets’ fan in attendance chanted “Harvey!  Harvey!”  as the so-called Dark Knight of Gotham ran out to the mound to pitch the 9th inning of Game 5 of the World Series.  As the inning began, I couldn’t hold in my excitement, not just for this game, but for the dozens of postseason games I had dreamed of attending in the years to come.  Matt Harvey was pitching the greatest game of his career as far as I’m concerned.  Citi Field was electric in the top of the 9th.  But by the end of the inning, the world had come crashing down on every single Mets’ fan on Earth.

The New York Mets would lose that game to the Kansas City Royals, who became World Series Champions, their first title since 1985.  As much as the end of the 2015 season stung, there was plenty of reason for hope in 2016 and the years after that.  The Mets boasted the best starting rotation in baseball, featuring Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz.  Jeurys Familia established himself as one of the best closers in the game.  Michael Conforto wasn’t around for all of 2015, but his two home runs in the Game 4 of the World Series had every Mets’ fan buzzing about the star that the 2014 draftee would become.  The Mets even went out and resigned star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who carried the team on his back throughout the summer en route to their first division title since 2006.  Entering 2016, the Mets looked destined to win their first World Series in 30 years.

New York enjoyed great success in the opening month of the new season, winning 15 games and losing 8.  Offensively, the Mets were on a home run binge.  They hit 33 home runs in April, which was the 5th highest total in the league.  Although they were hitting at a high level, the ace of the pitching staff was falling well short of expectations.

Coming off of his outstanding performance in the World Series, Matt Harvey was a popular choice to win the National League Cy Young Award in 2016.  In his first season back from Tommy John Surgery, Harvey went 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA.  The 2013 all-star still had his impeccable control and strikeout stuff that he had shown before his elbow injury.  In April, however, Harvey struggled greatly.  Opposing hitters batted .309 against Harvey, who finished the month with a 4.76 ERA.  The most glaring difference in Harvey’s pitching was his lack of velocity.  His fastball was frequently between 92-94 MPH, rather than the 95-97 last season.  Harvey did pitch well over 200 innings coming off of Tommy John, which could very well explain his diminished velocity.

Harvey never rebounded from his poor start.  His ERA in May was 5.91.  In June, he showed improvement but he didn’t record a win.  On his lone July start, Harvey was lit up by the Miami Marlins, who scored five runs against the Dark Knight in under four innings.  Just one week later, Harvey underwent surgery where he had a rib removed.  He will not be appearing on a mound for the Mets for the remainder of the season.

Harvey was far from the only problem in Queens.  Lucas Duda hasn’t played since May 20.  He has had some back issues this season, and he could end up on the shelf until next year.  Captain David Wright came into 2016 with limited expectations.  Considering Wright’s spinal stenosis last year, not many people expected the longtime Mets’ third baseman to produce at a high level.  On May 28th, Wright crushed a home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but that was Wright’s final game this season.  Wright was diagnosed with a ruptured disk in his neck.  The Mets do not expect him to return, and there is a serious possibility that he could retire this off-season.  Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz have all been banged up at some point this year as well.

Another major disappointment for the Mets in 2016 has been the play of catcher Travis d’Arnaud.  Once the key player in the trade that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto, d’Arnaud is batting just .243 with 3 home runs in 44 games.  The 27 year-old has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career, and this year has been no different.  After some solid offensive showings in the playoffs, many Mets’ fans expected d’Arnaud to breakout in 2016.

Although they made trades to bring Jay Bruce and Jonathan Niese to Citi Field, the Mets will not return to the postseason in October.  They currently sit just 3 games over .500.  The Washington Nationals look like they have the National League East locked up.  The Marlins and the Cardinals are two games ahead of the Mets for the second wild card.  Since the all-star break, New York has failed to win consecutive games, which is vital in order for any team to go on a run.  Unless one of the aforementioned teams collapses, or the Mets can start hitting at a respectable level with runners in scoring position, then New York is doomed.  2016 is a lost cause for the Amazin’s, but surely 2017 holds better fortunes, right?  Think again.

As of now, the Mets future may be bright, but they will be facing stiff competition for years.  The Nationals and the Marlins are not going anywhere atop the division for a while.  Washington has Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer locked up for the long haul, and they will probably do whatever it takes to resign Bryce Harper in a few years.  Miami probably won’t be able to resign ace Jose Fernandez after the 2018 season, but offensive powerhouse Giancarlo Stanton is under contract for the next decade.  The Marlins also have Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Dee Gordon leading their team in the future.  As for the Phillies and Braves, they likely won’t be contenders in 2017.  But both clubs have top-ranked farm systems.  Philadelphia and Atlanta will likely be 90-win teams by 2019.

So where does that leave the Mets?  They do have Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz under contract until after 2020.  Outside of their core of pitchers, the Mets lack any top talents.  Top prospect Amed Rosario should be a stalwart at shortstop in a few years, but that’s about it.  The Mets do have a potentially bright future.  But reality may see the Mets fall back to the cellar, a position that the team is all too familiar with.