Despite losing the final two games of their 10-game road trip this past weekend, the New York Mets are off to a solid 14-9 start this season. It’s an impressive record considering they’ve played 16 of 22 games on the road and have persevered through much adversity already.
When examining the first four weeks of the 2023 season, the good outweighs the bad, so far. But there’s certainly a mixed bag to consider.
Let’s look at some overreactions to the Mets impressive start to the 2023 season.
Pete Alonso will hit 70 home runs this season
Alonso is off to a terrific start. The slugging first baseman has hit 10 home runs, most by a Mets player before May 1 in franchise history. He’s pretty much launching one every other day.
So Alonso is on a pace to hit 70 home runs this season. He already owns the Mets’ single-season record with 53 homers in 2019, and he has 156 bombs in 553 MLB games. So yeah, we know Alonso is capable of mashing home runs at a serious rate.
OUT OF SIGHT AND OUT OF MIND.
PETE ALONSO TIES THIS BALLGAME UP. pic.twitter.com/7nrIAZeP4R
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 16, 2023
But 70 is a historic number. Even Aaron Judge hit “only” 62 home runs when setting the American League record last season. So let’s not go nuts just yet.
Still, Alonso could be setting up for a huge season. He dropped 20 pounds over the winter and is in terrific shape. He’s been disciplined at the plate, driving the ball to all fields and leads the National League with 23 RBIs after driving in an MLB-best 131 runs in 2022. We’ll see about 70 home runs. But this could be, as we predicted in spring training, Alonso’s best season yet.
The New York Mets fattened up against bad teams to start the 2023 season
This is true. The Mets are 5-2 against the Miami Marlins and 3-0 against the Oakland A’s. They won two games against the San Francisco Giants before dropping the next two at the end of an exhausting road trip. So that means 10 of their wins are against poor teams, although Miami is surprisingly 12-11 and third in the NL East.
David Robertson, Game Ending K…
And, Game Ending K. pic.twitter.com/4yo3vjDuDN
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 15, 2023
In their first test against a quality opponent, the Mets were swept by the Brewers in Milwaukee, shut out twice and outscored 26-6 in the series. But the Mets also won 2 of 3 at home against the San Diego Padres and 2 of 3 on the road in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. Those two are expected to be among the best teams in the National League. It’s an overreaction to say the Mets are solely beating up on the weakest teams.
And at the end of the day, the Mets are one of the top teams in baseball. So most of their games will come against “inferior” opposition. Fans expect them to win most of those games, and that’s what they’ve been doing.
The Mets pitching depth will carry them
The Mets pitching depth has been tested early and often so far this season. And considering they’re down to one of their projected five starters and playing all season without their star closer, the Mets must feel happy to be in second place in the NL East.
The back end of the bullpen with David Peterson and Adam Ottavino has been terrific. And for the most part, the rest of the relievers have been very good, too, considering they’re routinely working three to four innings in every game.
Which leads us to the starting rotation. The theory is that depth pieces like Tylor Megill, David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi need only hold things steady until Justin Verlander, Carlos Carrasco and Jose Quintana return from injury and Max Scherzer returns from suspension. Each fill-in has MLB experience and could be in the Top 5 for many teams in the majors. And again, the Mets are winning with their depth starters contributing.
JOEY LUCCHESI STRIKES OUT THE SIDE IN THE 7TH! pic.twitter.com/pjopRUdwIl
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 22, 2023
A closer look is less promising. In a small sample size, Peterson has struggled mightily after a strong spring down in Florida. Megill has tailed off after a strong start, not unlike 2022, though injury played a big role last season. And regular starters Scherzer and Carrasco have not been in top form to begin the season either. Kodai Senga has had some eye-popping innings but seems to fade in the fifth inning of his starts.
So despite terrific spot starts by Lucchesi and José Butto, the Mets’ rotation has not been great. In a glass-half-full world, one would say it’s a good sign the Mets have been winning despite struggles in the rotation, and eventually the starters will find their way and regain form and health as a group. In a glass-half-empty world, there’s a lot to be worried about with an aging group of starters who could be on and off the IL all season and struggling to resemble their best selves, especially if the depth starters don’t pitch better as a group.
The Mets paid big bucks to ensure this rotation is elite. And they should look closer to that once Verlander and Scherzer are back. But questions do abound about age, injury and performance throughout their starting five and beyond.
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