Since the second half, no team in baseball has taken as big a turn for the worst as the New York Mets. They went from the NL East favorite and division leader at the break, to a third-place squad, that currently sits 3.5 games back of the division-leading Atlanta Braves. This descent did not happen overnight, as there are many factors that have led to the fall of the once-promising Mets.
1) The injuries of Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor
Since the All-Star Break, the Mets have greatly missed their two biggest franchise faces in deGrom and Lindor. deGrom was having a historic year leading up to his injury, posting an excellent 1.08 ERA, in 92 innings over 15 starts. Having deGrom healthy is a vital part to this team’s success, as you know you’re going to get an almost guaranteed dominant start every fifth day. With him out you lose your ace, and the feeling of confidence you have whenever he steps on the mound.
Though Lindor has struggled in his first season in Flushing, he was steadily improving as the year went on. We saw some of his best play in the days leading up to his injury, as he posted a terrific .333/.489/.500 slash line over twelve games in July. Not only is his success key for the Mets, but the leadership and durability he provides is just as important. He has been a very durable player over his entire seven-year career and played in almost every game in 2021 up to his injury. Thankfully, he is likely to return next week, which will provide a huge lift to this slumping Mets team.
2) Inability to capitalize with runners in scoring position
The Mets have struggled mightily in the second half with stringing hits together, and this is amplified with their opportunities with runners in scoring position. They have an awful .161 batting average in the month of August with RISP, and most recently are 3-36 in their last four games. With the starting pitching struggling as much as it has since the All-Star break, the Mets could use a consistent offense, but sadly it has not been the case.
3) The struggles of Rich Hill and Carlos Carrasco
When it was announced that Rich Hill was being traded to the Mets shortly before the trade deadline, there was quite a bit of excitement surrounding the deal. Hill is a crafty, left-handed veteran, that saw a ton of success during his tenure in Los Angeles. He was off to a good start to his 2021 season with the Tampa Bay Rays, posting a 6-4 record, with a 3.87 ERA over 19 starts. He has greatly underperformed for the Mets thus far, posting a horrendous 4.98 ERA over five appearances, totaling 21.2 innings pitched.
Carlos Carrasco is an easy guy to root for, but he has struggled mightily in his first few starts for the Mets. He has a 10.32 ERA over his first four starts, to pair with a high 1.853 WHIP. While there is still time for Hill and Carrasco to bounce back, they have not been the consistent, veteran starting pitchers that Mets fans have hoped for.
4) The continued struggles of Jeff McNeil
From the minute that McNeil got called up to the bigs, he has been a force at the top of the order. In his first three year in New York, he posted a .319/.383/.501 slash, with an excellent .884 OPS. No one had expected him to struggle as bad as he has this season, as he has posted a lowly .251/.328/.689. I hate to pick on just one guy in the lineup, but I fully expect Jeff to bounce back at some point this year, given just how great of a hitter he was for his first few years.
5) The rebound of the NL East
The NL East was expected to be one of the most competitive divisions in all of baseball in 2021 at the start of the year. However, until the All-Star break, it was arguably the most uninteresting division in baseball. The Mets were 47-40, the only team above .500 in the division. The competitiveness in the NL East has picked up since the beginning of August, as it has now become the tight race that we once expected. The Braves have an 8-2 record over their past ten games, and now sit atop the division. The Mets had been able to coast along with mediocre performance in the first half, but their holes have really been brought out since the rebound of the NL East.