How the Mets Can Improve for 2019
By: Steven Aiello
Thanks to a complete game shutout pitched by Noah Syndergaard, the Mets were able to end the 2018 season on a rather positive note.
The win served as a sort of small silver lining for an ultimately disappointing season full of various high points and just as many low points.
Although rookie manager Mickey Callaway was able to improve upon the Mets 2017 record of 70-92, the Mets fell short of the postseason for the second consecutive season and have further regressed from the 2015 team that won the NL pennant.
The Mets shortcomings in 2018 mostly could be attributed to an inconsistent and oft injured offense. Although impressive throughout various road contests the Mets offense struggled immensely at home, scoring less than 300 runs at Citi Field.
The Mets best hitter was left fielder Michael Conforto, who proved himself with the most RBIs and home runs on the team. Shortstop Amed Rosario made some key developments this year at the plate, and stole 24 bases throughout the season.
Jeff McNeil’s late season tenure at second base also proved fruitful with McNeil’s high batting average (.329) and even some excellent defense plays.
Apart from their performances, the Mets offensive play ranged from average to awful with no big name hitters and a good amount of aging veterans comprising the team.
In potentially his final season as a Met, Jose Reyes batted below the Mendoza line while hitting few home runs and batting less than 20 runs in. Some of the Met’s prospects such as Luis Guillorme and Dominic Smith also held poor batting totals while contributing little in terms of scoring.
Other problems included Jay Bruce’s early season struggles and Cespedes’ injuries that limited his playing time. Poor offense and a lack of powerful hitters lead to the Mets losing several games in which their pitchers had quality/dominant outings.
No pitcher suffered more from the Met’s poor offense than Jacob deGrom, who pitched arguably the best season in Mets history.
Despite all of its accolades, such as an MLB record 24 consecutive starts and sub 2.00 ERA, deGrom’s record breaking season resulted in a 10-9 record for the pitcher in which the Mets lost the majority of his starts. The offense wasn’t the only problem for the starting pitching, as the bullpen also struggled in key moments.
Pitchers such as Familia and A.J. Ramos struggled in save opportunities and close games, and relief pitcher Paul Sewald had terrible outing after terrible outing following April. Lugo, arguably the best relief pitcher, suffered almost entirely from poor outings in games started by deGrom.
The lack of harmony between the starting rotation, bullpen and offense was the undoing of the 2018 Mets, as the Mets lost countless games of close baseball; one run games were especially troubling for the team.
An inability to sustain long term success was the defining aspect of 2018, and arguably the team, as the Mets excelled early and late in the year but struggled immensely in between, especially in May and June.
Although the season was overall a failure, the late season successes of the Mets do provide hope for the 2019 season. If the Mets are to do anything past September or early October, the organization of the Mets need to make certain moves in the off-season regarding free agency.
The Mets should make it a goal to sign the former two to long term deals, and develop Wheeler’s pitching abilities further. If the Mets want to obtain more starting pitchers through free agency, Patrick Corbin is the best option thanks to his high WAR (wins above replacement) and consistently low ERA.
The Mets should make the most moves towards offensive players and bullpen, which were highly unremarkable for the team. Wilson Ramos is a great option for the team and his throwing ability could help with the Met’s stolen base issues.
The Mets should additionally try signing Eduardo Escobar to fill in the gap left by David Wright’s departure as well as resign Asdrubal Cabrera, who was one of their best hitters before departing.
Ultimately, the Mets need to construct a team for long term success if they want to replicate their success from 2015. To do this, the organization must be more aggressive in free agency and in retaining their players.