Photo courtesy of FanRag Sports
By: Brian Cranston
The Mets have been one of the biggest stories early on the season, starting off 8-1 and tied for the best record in baseball with the Boston Red Sox. The Mets started their season off at home, winning 2 of 3 against the Cardinals, and then sweeping 2 games from the Phillies, with one of the games being rained out. This past weekend, the Mets traveled to Washington, the NL East favorite and winner of the division 3 of the last 4 seasons. The Mets rolled into Washington and swept the Nats. This is the second time they have done that in past 10 years. The Mets played solid baseball in Washington, winning tight games by executing down the stretch, and relying on their bullpen. This is the formula that has carried the Mets through the first week and a half of the season.
The Mets have been playing extremely solid and fundamental baseball, something that Mets fans have not seen much of in Flushing. A major reason for the Mets hot start is their bullpen, that owns an ERA of 1.21, the best in the majors. Familia, Ramos, Blevins, Gsellman and Lugo have all been superb so far, combining for an ERA of 0.30. The Mets, a team thought of as heavily reliant of starting pitching, has not even gotten dominant outings from their top guys yet. Degrom and Syndergaard have pitched 5 of the team’s first 9 games, but neither has recorded an out in the 7th inning yet. In fact, no Mets starter has recorded an out in the 7th inning yet. Obviously, the Mets need depth from their starters eventually to keep their pen fresh, but with guys like Syndergaard and Degrom, the dominant outings will come as the season progresses.
Offensively, the Mets were thought of as a feast or famine lineup, relying heavily on the long ball. However, the story through the first week and a half of the season has been more clutch hitting and small ball, rather than hitting the home run. The Mets have 8 home runs as a club, tied for 20th in the league.
An emphasis of new manager Mickey Callaway, when he came over was to be aggressive on the base paths. So far, the Mets have stuck to that plan, and it has worked out. The Mets are a team that lacks speed, therefore, they try to be aggressive like going 1st to 3rd, and stretching singles into doubles. Mets fans have not seen much of this kind of play in a long time, and many credit it to new manager Mickey Callaway’s presence in the locker room.
Even players are noticing a difference between this year and years past, and see a winning attitude in this clubhouse. Syndergaard stated, “It’s a lot of fun watching us play baseball, you see aggressiveness on the base paths to the timely hitting to the explosive hitting we’ve got going. The ball-busting in the clubhouse and the dugout, and it’s just a lot of fun. It’s a great team chemistry to be around.” Yoenis Cespedes even stated that this 2018 Mets team was the best he’s ever been on. Although it’s only been 9 games, this strong start is extremely encouraging, and the Mets are starting to catch attention as a true contender in the NL East and National League as a whole.
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