A season that once looked poised to see the New York Mets play meaningful baseball in October has been all but eviscerated. Losers of 19 of their last 28 games, the Mets have fallen to 61-63, which is good for third place in the National League East and has them seven games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves.
The Braves are cruising of late, as they’ve won 16 of their last 18 and are seemingly running away with the division. To boot, Jacob deGrom, MLB’s best starting pitcher, may not take the hill again this season due to an elbow injury.
All realistic hope of the Mets making the playoffs (a roadmap to the playoffs in the NL East likely only materializes by winning the division) appears to be gone. That said, manager Luis Rojas’ team has one last glimmer of hope that can spark a September run. Such hope is Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez getting healthy.
New York Mets’ offense is in dire need of help
The Mets have quite possibly the most disappointing offense in the sport this season. They entered Monday 25th in MLB in batting average (.234), 26th in OPS (.691) and home runs (130) and 28th in runs (469) and hits (927).
Let’s keep in mind that the Mets entered the season with the likes of Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Francisco Lindor, Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis and James McCann present. This was an elite offense on paper entering the season and one of the best in sport from 2019-20. On the contrary, it has been among the worst offenses in baseball this season.
They have an abundance of players who hit for power and average and field their positions well. Yet, here they are, serving as the element of the 2021 Mets that’s holding the team back.
The Mets desperately need help in the batter’s box. Whether it be players getting on base more or individuals getting runners in scoring position across home plate, they need consistency wherever they can get it. That’s where Lindor and Baez returning to the field looms large.
Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez can lift the New York Mets’ offense
Now, Lindor’s struggles this season are well-documented, as he’s having the worst season of his MLB career which is low-lighted by hitting .228. That said, he has been removed from the field for a month. Perhaps time away from the game allows Lindor to keep matters simple and make more impactful contact at the top of the order for the Mets?
Baez returned from the injured list for the Mets’ Sunday afternoon affair with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he slugged out a pair of doubles en route to a New York victory. The infielder’s power stroke is no secret, nor is his slick play in the field.
Lindor and Baez are two of the best all-around middle infielders in baseball and were acquired to take the Mets’ offense to the next level, more specifically in Lindor’s case. The two players getting back to performing at their career tendencies would be a godsend for the Mets. It would be like acquiring a pair of All-Stars for the home stretch.
Lindor gets on base more often, creating more run opportunities for Alonso and Smith. Baez provides a lethal threat from the right side, adding a power catalyst and someone whose presence helps pick up the slack for players like Conforto and Smith, who are each struggling to come through.
A respectable offense gives the New York Mets a fighting chance at the NL East
If the Mets’ offense was merely competent, the team would be within striking distance. Why is that? It’s because their starting rotation has remained a sturdy force without deGrom. Marcus Stroman has been the best version of himself this season.
For the most part, Taijuan Walker has been a reliable force every fifth day. Tylor Megill has been superb since being inserted into the rotation, as he sports a 3.21 ERA on the season. Veteran right-hander Carlos Carrasco recently joined the rotation.
Starting pitching has held down the fort as well as humanly possible given the circumstances. Albeit the bullpen has been shaky, the Mets’ long and middle relief corps is doing a plausible job of getting a lead to the late innings.
The Mets have a favorable schedule the rest of the way. After a three-game series at home against the San Francisco Giants, the Mets have 14 consecutive games against the rival Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins. Both teams were sellers at the trade deadline, are out of the playoff race and have been losing games at high clips of late. The Mets have to demolish them.
Later in September, they host a pair of three-game series at home against the monotonous St. Louis Cardinals and second-place Philadelphia Phillies. They also have another three-game set with the Marlins and close the regular season on the road against the Braves.
Is it likely that the Mets shock the baseball world and power their way to winning the NL East? It is not. At the same time, the return of their star infielders can serve as an enormous shot in the arm. Their respective returns are truly the Mets’ last chance at cracking the playoffs.