Edwin Díaz was supposed to be the best reliever in baseball.
The Mets have cooled down in the couple of weeks since their historic 15-1 stretch, but have still done enough winning to keep themselves firmly in the playoff picture. While they’re a team that’s been known to have the injury bug over the past few seasons, this season things have been very different. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz are all (for now) healthy, and the intact rotation is the top-5 unit Mets fans always assumed they would have “if they stayed healthy”.
The Mets have a really amazing pitcher named Jacob. He’s one of the best arms in the league, shutting opponents down with such regularity it’s become boring. He’s an imposing figure on the mound, standing 6 feet, 4 inches tall. And his last name isn’t deGrom.
On August 19, after a brutal 8-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants, the New York Mets, defending champions of the National League, were 60-62. Their playoff odds were 6.7%, per Fangraphs. 6.7%! It wasn’t quite the home stretch to the 2016 season the Mets had visualized when they entered the year looking to defend their pennant and complete the path to redemption in the World Series. When they re-signed Yoenis Cespedes on January 26, they looked poised to do it, with a rotation that was being hailed as potentially one of the greatest of all time, and a mostly-intact offense from last season’s number one NL offensive team in the second half. Baseball wouldn’t have it that way.
The New York Mets are coming off of a very pleasantly surprising season in 2015, making a thrilling run to the World Series after not previously making the playoffs since 2006. They also have plenty of cause for optimism in the future, with a young and still improving pitching rotation that could already be considered the best in baseball. However, some of the moves (and non-moves) they’ve made this offseason have the fanbase scratching their heads and even calling for the owners to sell the team. Why?
It’s been quite a week for both the New York Mets and Washington Nationals, though the two teams have seen very different results. The Mets, currently riding a five-game win streak that included a sweep of the Nats, are back in first place in the National League East for the first time since early June, despite the returns for the Nationals of injured starters Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. Many factors allowed the Mets to sweep the Nats this weekend, including their fireballing young trio of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard, the overall – and sudden – ineptitude of the Nats’ offense (see figure below, courtesy of ESPN, for an overview), the addition of two-time Home Run Derby champion and 4.2 WAR outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a suddenly-deep Mets lineup, and the magma-hot bat of Mets first baseman Lucas Duda, who had an incredible run that saw nine home runs hit in an eight-game span, and was awarded co-National League Player of the Week for his efforts.