New York Mets struggle though sub-.500 May

Francisco Alvarez, New York Mets.

After an April filled with injuries and a tough West Coast trip, the New York Mets looked poised to feast in May. The schedule provided plenty of bad teams, including a stretch of 13 games early in the month against some of baseball’s worst squads, while Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer were finally united atop the rotation. Things didn’t go according to plan as the Mets uncharacteristically struggled against bad teams, going just 14-15 in May to end the first two months of the year at 29-27.

A doubleheader split against Atlanta on the 1st gave way to the 13-game stretch against Detroit, Colorado, Washington and Cincinnati. The Mets went just 4-9 against those teams and also went 2-4 against the Rockies and Chicago Cubs on a six-game road trip, resulting in 13 losses that could easily have been much less. Those games saw the Mets display the characteristics of a bad team as they failed to play complete games, either by seeing the offense go limp in support of good pitching or the rotation flaming out on the rare days the offense did score runs.

There were also signs of optimism, including a 5-1 stretch at Citi Field in the middle of May where the Mets won two of three against the best team in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays, while sweeping the Cleveland Guardians. Two straight wins to end the month against the Philadelphia Phillies also offered some hope that the Mets are beginning to find themselves.

The other piece of good news that the Mets received is that their struggles didn’t cost them too much ground in the standings. The Mets finished April three games back of the Braves and lost just one game over a month where they played poorly, which is a result of Atlanta failing to capitalize on an opportunity to bury them in the standings. With the two teams poised to meet in Atlanta next week, the Mets are still in a good position to make some noise in the National League East.

The best statistical performer for the Mets in the lineup in May was actually rookie catcher Francisco Alvarez, who hit .292 with seven home runs and 17 RBIs in 22 games to gain a firm grip of the starting catching position. Pete Alonso also continued his tremendous power surge, hitting another 10 home runs and driving in 21 more runs while Francisco Lindor also contributed six homers and 17 RBIs as he heated up at the end of the month.

The starting rotation also started to improve with health as Kodai Senga (2-2, 2.79 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched, Scherzer (2-1, 3.38 ERA in four starts) and Carlos Carrasco (2-0, 3.57 ERA in three starts) delivered solid results. The bullpen also saw David Robertson continue his strong start to the season by racking up a 2-0 record, five saves and three holds with a 2.08 ERA in 11 appearances. Brooks Raley was also much sharper in his return from the injured list, tossing 7.1 scoreless innings in eight appearances.

June will be an interesting month for the Mets, who face a lot of potential playoff contenders on their schedule. This home stand will conclude today against the Phillies before Toronto comes to town for a weekend set. A trip to Atlanta and Pittsburgh follows before the Citi Field edition of the Subway Series in the middle of the month. First meetings with the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros are also on tap while the Mets wrap up the month of June with series against the Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants.

A few additional off days mean the Mets are only scheduled to play 26 games in June. A 15-11 mark would be good progress against this schedule and put the Mets at 44-38 after a challenging month with the All-Star Break not far away. Better health means this kind of performance is attainable but the Mets may look back on this May as a missed opportunity, particularly if they are trailing in the division late in the season.

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