Flawed Mets hit break in first; can offense step up in second half?

·5 min read

The Mets entered the All-Star break — despite Sunday’s disappointing 6-5 loss to the Pirates — with a division lead for the first time since 2007. The last time they had 48 or more wins in the first half was in 2010, when they also finished with 48 wins.

They’ve been in first place since May 8, a 64-day streak that represents their longest run atop the NL East in the last 14 seasons. The 2007 Mets were in first place for 135 days in a row. So yeah, if you’ve been paying attention to their season, the 2021 Mets are already making history.

But the work is far from done, as evidenced by the lowly Pirates putting up six answered runs against the Mets on Sunday in their final game before the break. The Mets are flawed.

The offense, an underwhelming group that has recently shown sparks, was projected to have one of the best offensive productions in the league. Instead, the Mets have teetered at 29th in MLB in runs scored per game with 3.7. For perspective, the Astros lead MLB in that category with 5.4 runs per game, while the Dodgers have the most in the NL with 5.2.

They’ve also lacked power. Pete Alonso, heating up of late, has the most home runs (17) on the team, but that total doesn’t even crack the top 10 in the NL, let alone the top 25 in the league. While Alonso is far from his monster rookie-season production, the Mets aren’t getting much help from other hitters that could hit for power like Francisco Lindor (11 home runs), Michael Conforto (three) and Dominic Smith (nine).

The Mets’ pitching staff and quality production from their fill-ins, nicknamed the Bench Mob, have carried the team to its halfway mark.

Jacob deGrom, Taijuan Walker and Marcus Stroman all enter the break with sub-3.00 ERAs with a combined 280 innings pitched between them. The club has used 15 different starting pitchers already this year, the most in MLB, which only makes the staff’s starter ERA (3.00, second in NL) that much more impressive. And the rotation is only going to get stronger with the imminent comeback of Carlos Carrasco.

The Mets bullpen has benefitted from additions like Aaron Loup and Trevor May, even though the latter gave up a pair of earned runs to the Pirates on Saturday that increased his season ERA to 3.58. The Amazin’s relief corps has a top-seven ERA in the NL, with Edwin Diaz having his best season as a Met. Diaz has successfully converted 19 of his 21 save opportunities this year, and though he’s been unpredictable in non-save situations, the Mets closer has been dependable when the game is on the line.

Throw in their brutal month of injuries that saw 18 players land on the injured list in May, and it’s clear the Mets haven’t played to their on-paper potential through their first 87 games. Their first-half success can be attributed to the underperforming NL East, a division that was projected to be the toughest in the league, but only has one team performing over .500 in the Mets.

As much as the Mets’ first half was a success, their second half needs to be better.


Manager Luis Rojas, an underrated positive influence in the Mets’ 2021 season, spoke to his players about taking time off during the All-Star break well before their final game of the first half on Sunday. Rojas, who said he’s “big about days off,” expects almost all of his players, with the exception of Pete Alonso who’s defending his title in Monday’s Home Run Derby, to spend quality time with their families and disconnect from baseball for a few days.

“I think everyone has the same mindset, so just keep it going,” Rojas said. “We’re going to meet here on Thursday before we go to Pittsburgh and have a small workout. Everyone’s pretty much engaged with what we need to do this season. They’ll have some downtime and rest. The rest of the guys should be taking their time off and be ready to go Friday.”


Carlos Carrasco (torn right hamstring) is expected to begin a rehab assignment over the break. The Mets have said it’s possible he will make just one or two rehab outings before completing his progression and fully stretching out with the big-league club. He is expected to come off the IL and make his Mets debut at the end of July.

J.D. Davis (left hand sprain) is continuing his rehab assignment for Triple-A Syracuse while the Mets are off for the break. The club wants Davis to tune up his at-bats before he returns to the lineup. Davis has already homered a couple of times in his rehab games, so the expectation is he should be plenty ready.

David Peterson (right oblique strain) is slowly working his way back from a June 30 injury he felt during his last start, but he’s still weeks away from returning to the rotation. The Mets projected Peterson would be sidelined for eight weeks, which pencils his return somewhere around the end of August, and that timeline has not yet changed.

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