If I had to use one word to describe the Mets 2021 season up to this point in time, it would have to be disjointed. They have suffered cancelled games at a level most teams do not see and they now have 4 doubleheaders on the schedule including one later today against the Phillies at 410PM at CitiField.
The doubleheaders despite being 7 innings for the most part, put a strain on the pitching staff but the issue is more complex than that. Baseball players are creatures of habits and this start again stop again schedule could explain why the Met offense appears disjointed–there’s that word again.
When you think about it the Mets completed their spring training schedule and had to endure 3 CoVid postponements in the nation’s capital before they dropped 2 of 3 to the Phillies. And after a home opening win they had a scheduled day off followed by the deGrom start in which the offense sputtered and now 2 more off days due to inclement weather.
That is about as disjointed (yes there’s that word again) a schedule as you could imagine and the team simply has not been able to get into a rhythm. From an offensive standpoint that means not seeing live pitching in an actual game which is something all hitters have to see and not seeing it could prolong batting slumps which is what we’ve seen thus far in 2021. Batters like Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor are players that need that everyday action because it gets their mindset sharp for every at bat.
The bottom line is players are creatures of habit whose routine is like oxygen for them and interrupting that routine leaves them feeling uneasy at the plate. But this goes for pitchers as well especially relief pitchers. Edwin Diaz needs to pitch regularly–at least every other day-and he could not because there were hardly any save chances and we saw that lack of work manifest on Saturday when he surrendered 2 runs transforming a 1-0 deficit into a 3-0 lead that ended any hope for the homestanding Mets.
My overall point here is this incongruent schedule forces the players to alter the routines they have carved out during their entire careers. And because of that, it becomes increasingly hard to evaluate players on a level playing field with others on the team. It makes carving out lineups very hard putting blinders on a manager when he makes those decisions and I am sure Luis Rojas feels like he is blindfolded when deciding which pitcher comes out of the bullpen in certain situations.
This is why those that think the Mets are headed south in the standings need to put the breaks on their analysis as well. It is too small a sample size and beyond that with so many postponements how can you really be sure about your analysis no matter what the numbers say?
And Luis Rojas must remember one simple thing–He and the Mets brain trust spent all winter carving out a roster that they felt would breed a successful team. And I think they were correct in that evaluation which means they must exhibit patience and not make drastic changes this soon. Run your lineup out there and trust your starting pitchers to keep the game in reach and as far as the bullpen is concerned, you have a trio in May, Loup and Diaz that you spent all spring training telling us you believed in to protect games.
Get back into a regular routine with these beliefs and things will improve. In this town, the media will ALWAYS criticize the Mets, They would blame them for original sin if they could. But I would advise the Mets to ignore the critics because this roster is talented and filled with winning ballplayers. And once the schedule gets more normal you will see the results.
I know this is a strange column for you to read–A media member actually showing support for a team when things are going bad. But it is my firm belief that this early season situation is merely a speed bump for this team because this roster is simply put–real talented and very deep. And that is what I see. That take comes from nearly 40 years covering the Mets and baseball and I am just not made to be a sheep that follows the crowd. Those of you who know me, know being a sheep follower is just not me.