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Mets midseason review
The Mets' 90-win bar, set by general manager Sandy Alderson for team executives and leaked to the media in February, seemed mighty ambitious at the time. After all, the Mets have only reached that mark 10 times in their 52-year history, and have not reached even 80 wins since 2008 (89). But a small part of the quintessential fan believed it to be attainable if the venture signings and existing assets could pan out, aligning with the stars to create a season worth remembering. At 45-50 entering the All-Star break, the goal is all but out of reach, and the reason why is no mystery.
With a team lacking consistent offense, the Mets knew they would need a lot from David Wright, the face of the franchise, to make noise this season. The 31-year-old, who has not hit 30 home runs since 2008, looks to be extending the dry spell with just eight homers and 46 RBIs while batting .285 through 95 games.
The Amazin's signed outfielder Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25 million contract, and few understood why. A 32-homer debut season for Arizona in 2007 was followed by three of the next four seasons with at least 20 home runs. But behind that was the reality of a declining career-.233 hitter who fought injuries in 2012 and '13. While the other premier offseason acquisition, Curtis Granderson, has come around as of late -- tied with Lucas Duda with a team-leading 14 home runs -- Young is batting just .202 with eight long balls and 27 RBIs in 71 games, having spent time on the DL and the end of the bench.
With Matt Harvey out for the season recovering from Tommy John surgery, the spotlight was on Zack Wheeler to be the marquee young pitcher who would rack up wins for the club. With just five victories in 19 starts and a 3.90 ERA, the Mets need more than "good stuff" from the righthander; they need results. Wheeler has won his last two starts and has given up just three runs in his last 191/3 innings.
Wheeler's battery mate Travis d'Arnaud, one of the prized prospects acquired in the R.A. Dickey trade, is batting .217 in 55 games. He spent half of May on the disabled list and much of June in the minors searching for his stroke. His early woes at the plate have recently turned though, as he is hitting .295 with three homers and 10 RBI in 16 games since his return from Triple-A.
The Mets sure miss Harvey's dominance every fifth day, and although the bullpen is a bright spot for the team this season, Bobby Parnell tearing his MCL on Opening Day was an unexpected blow.
But Dillon Gee's absence since May 15 with a strained lat muscle has been the team's worst injury, as the Opening Day starter began the season 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA in eight starts. In his first game back last Wednesday, Gee pitched seven innings of one-run ball to extend the Mets winning streak to four games in the midst of an 8-2 homestand going into the All-Star break.
Jon Niese, too, was placed on the DL before the season began. He returned to pitch April 6, maintaining a 2.96 ERA in 17 starts before heading back on July 6 with a fatigued shoulder. Despite the Mets' 10th-best ERA in the majors, not having these veterans in the rotation at the same time for a substantial portion of the season is anything but a winning formula. Once Niese is back, the pieces will be in place for a rotation that has carried its weight all season.