The New York Mets spent most of May playing with a depleted roster ravaged by injuries, something that seems almost typical for fans of the franchise. But a funny thing happened during that stretch. Rather than fall apart, the Mets put together a run that saw them take control of the NL East.
The Mets beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-6 on Wednesday to push their record to 27-21.
Mets injuries pile up
New York sits four games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the division, and the Mets are the only NL East team boasting a winning record. The struggles of the rest of the division have certainly helped the Mets build their lead, but the fact that they’ve played well is still a surprise.
Almost every significant contributor on the New York roster seemingly dealt with injuries during May. Jacob deGrom missed a couple of starts while Pete Alonso suffered a sprain in his right hand and sat out two weeks. Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, JD Davis, and Brandon Nimmo are all out with various ailments. Even Noah Syndergaard suffered another setback on his road to rejoining the MLB roster.
The offense was CLICKING. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/jxJI1tfqSR
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 3, 2021
And yet, the Mets have gone 16-9 over their past 25 games. The biggest improvement has come in clutch hitting, as the Mets have hit .300 with runners in scoring position over their last 26 games, compared to .209 earlier in the season. While New York won’t sustain that clip, there’s no reason to think they’ll be as bad in clutch situations as they were over the first month of the year, either.
“The offense has changed,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said after Wednesday’s win. “It’s good to see the guys get double-digit hits up on the board, it’s good to see some of these swings that the guys are taking, some of the bats that the guys are taking.”
The Mets totaled 16 hits on Wednesday, going 5-for-13 with runners in scoring position. That performance included three hits for Francisco Lindor, who is riding a five-game hitting streak. Lindor has raised his batting average to .209 on the year – still far below expectations for the shortstop, but better than his .182 mark from a week ago.
Pitching depth makes up for sluggish offense
Still, it’s been pitching that has carried the Mets this year. New York is averaging just 3.73 runs per game, which is third-worst in the majors. But the Mets are holding opponents to 3.60 runs, which is good for fourth-best. While deGrom and Marcus Stroman account for much of that success, the bullpen has also performed well, with the deep unit putting up a 3.47 ERA so far this year.
As good as the Mets have been, they figure to improve as players return from injury. FanDuel Sportsbook rates the Mets as a -250 pick to win the NL East, well ahead of the Braves (+310) and Philadelphia Phillies (+1100).
New York will face a test over the next nine days, as they’ll play the San Diego Padres seven times – first four times out west, then three more at home next weekend. But the team is confident heading into what could be a difficult stretch.
“Feeling good going to San Diego,” Lindor said, via The Athletic. “Hopefully, we can continue to feel good.”