The Mets made it interesting on Wednesday night. With Rajai Davis at first on a walk and Wilson Ramos at second with no out in the bottom of the ninth, the Mets received opportunities to tie the game several times. In the end, Amed Rosario grounded into a fielder’s choice, Juan Lagares struck out and Todd Frazier flied out.
So much for a tie game. So much for a dramatic win. So much for hope.
In the end, the Mets teased us in their 10-7 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field. Their losing streak extended to five games.
A realist knew better. The Mets put themselves in a bad situation when Noah Syndergaard gave up six runs in the first inning, which equaled him giving up six runs in his last five starts combined. It could be the Cubs just relaxed and lost focus with a big lead, which happens in baseball often. In the end, the Cubs did enough to hang in there for a victory.
It did not get better on Thursday night when the Cubs swept the Mets in their 4-1 victory. Mets ace Jacob deGrom pitched as well as he could to give the Mets a chance to win, but the bats once again did nothing. Perhaps they used up all of their energy in what was a futile comeback attempt Wednesday night.
Face it: The Mets have never been the same after a 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves in 14 innings at Citi Field last Friday night. They exhausted all their energy from that game, and they never recovered. After wasting Jacob deGrom’s gem, it was a tough loss that would be hard to get over. The Mets proved the cynics right with a six-game losing streak and counting smack dab in the wild-card race.
It’s hard to take a team seriously as a playoff contender with a long losing streak at this time of the year.
In reality, the Mets couldn’t sustain this up for a month. They are not good enough to do so. Their offense features too many streaky hitters such as Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario, Wilson Ramos and J.D. Davis. Their bullpen showed inconsistency along with their starting rotation. Sooner or later, the Mets would have been playing to their norm.
The Mets were a mediocre team at best when the season started, and this is what they are. Look for them to finish with 83 wins. They will get their fans hopes up by playing well enough to contend in the next two weeks. Here’s the point of all this: They are not good enough to play in October.
Even if the Mets played their way in the wild-card race and be within striking distance in the final weekend of the season, what makes anyone think they will beat the Braves in the final series of the season when they have gone 5-11 against the NL East division leaders this season?
Give the Mets credit for making it interesting these last few weeks to the point fans ignored training camp and preseason games. They behaved like professionals by playing through the season, even if it looked like a lost cause. Look for them to continue to play that way on their way to the finish line.
But don’t get your hopes up in thinking the Mets still have it in them, even if they are five games back with 29 games to go this season. Too many questions exist for them to go on another run like they had this month.
The Mets can’t be delusional to think they are good enough to contend for next season based on this year’s finish. They tried this offseason by staying put after a decent finish last season, and in the end, it didn’t work.
The Amazins could use athleticism on their roster, and they need guys who can play defense. Instead of relying on home runs, they could use hitters who can hit-and-run and bunt. They must stop playing guys out of position.
They should shake up this roster. It’s time. The results are not working. Trading Syndergaard and Conforto should be job one heading to this offseason. Conforto is too streaky as a hitter, and he is an awful outfielder, and Syndergaard is too inconsistent with his potential. The Mets could use good players in return for these guys and win now. With Marco Stroman being a free agent after next season, trading him makes sense for young players to build around.
Trading deGrom would be a courageous move, but since he signed his contract extension this season, the Mets won’t trade their meal ticket to any team.
Come to think of it, the Wilpons likely are not going to trade their core players. They have no stomach for rebuilding. They experienced it few years ago, and the losing was too much for them. For them, playing through it and somehow getting lucky provide to be a better option than taking the losses. That’s why they decided to hire Brodie Van Wagenen to be their general manager rather than hire Doug Melvin or Rays executive Chaim Bloom that wanted to break this roster up and start all over again.
But mediocrity does a team a disservice. It’s boring, and it’s a waste of time. Either a team is getting worse with the idea of getting better or they sustain excellence.
The Mets can’t win with this roster. They tried it. Mediocrity is their ceiling, and it becomes a charade after awhile.
These last few weeks turned out to be fun. The Mets played to great crowds at Citi Field, and they created a buzz in town whether it’s sports radio, social media and sports bars.
That’s nice, but when the Mets wasted another excellent performance by deGrom for the second time in a row, maybe it’s time to admit this is not working.
Another nonplayoff season should raise awareness, not a delusion of grandeur.