Despite Ailments, Streaking Mets Keep NL East Tight

nymets62Really? Come on. If this is a surprise then the last few years must be a bit fuzzy to the memory. What has become an annual drama-filled, slug-fest between the New York Mets and bitter rival Philadelphia Phillies has come to fruition once again this season as the two teams remain inseparable atop the National League East. As of the morning of June 1, the Mets are just a half game behind the Phils for the division lead. It is beginning to look like a two team race for the Eastern pennant in the Senior Circuit as the Braves and Marlins have fallen off pace at 4 GB and 6.5 GB respectively.

After a disappointing 9-12 April to start the season, the Mets reeled off eight wins out of their first nine games to start the month of May. They also ended the month winning seven out of the nine games to end the month with a mark of 19-9. They survived a grueling 10-game road trip at 5-5 which was highlighted by taking two out of three games at Fenway Park from the Red Sox.

PORT SAINT LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 29:  Starting ...
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In terms of overall production, the Metropolitans have the best plus/minus rating at plus 26 by scoring the second most runs in the division with 234 and allowing the least amount of runs in the division with a total of 204. Their runs allowed mark has been so low lately thanks to help in the starting rotation from more than just a fellow by the name of Johan Santana. Sure, his ERA for May was about 1.3 runs above his April mark of 1.10 but then again, he’s human after all. His numbers from the two months are not of the “eerily similar” variety but are pretty darn close. The only difference is that he allowed ten more total base runners in the month and let us not forget that he did have to pitch in Fenway as well. Right now, Santana stands at 7-2 with a 1.77 ERA and 86 Ks through 66 IP.

New York Mets pitcher Michael Pelfrey before a...

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While we could spend all day discussing Santana’s numbers, there have been other contributors finally in the starting rotation for the Mets. Mike Pelfrey became relevant again as he posted a 2.93 ERA for the month of May in six starts and held opponents to a .257 BAA in 40 IP. Pelfrey helps his own cause by limiting the amount of home runs allowed with just 4 allowed on the season. John Maine busted out in May as well with a sparkling BAA of .212 in 36 IP to help him accumulate 4 wins in the month. Maine too is stingy with giving up long balls, equaling Maine’s mark of just 4 allowed on the season.

Speaking of home runs allowed, their entire staff has allowed the fourth lowest in the NL with 36 allowed on the season. What about that revamped bullpen, you ask? They have the second best save percentage in the NL with a mark of 73% and have blown just 6 save opportunities on the campaign. If they finish the year along the same pace, they will have just 12 blown saves on the campaign as compared to their excruciatingly painful mark of 29 from last season. Luis Ayala, anyone? St. Louis was worse last year with 31, which led the NL.

So with three solid starters going per week and that potent Mets offense… What? Wait, their offense is not so potent now? The injury bug has taken several of their starters out of the lineup, including Carlos Delgado who is due to miss several months because of hip surgery?

Gary Sheffield
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Have no fear, Mets fans. Gary Sheffield is here and he has given the Metropolitans all that they could ask for and more. Sheff crushed opposition pitching this past month with a mark of .348 for the month and an OPS of 1.048. His 15 RBIs in 66 at-bats for the month were a crucial part of the Mets’ success. In late and close situations, which is defined by baseball-reference.com as plate appearances in the 7th or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck, Sheffield is hitting .316 with 2 home runs and 10 walks in 19 total ABs. While that is just a small sample-size, we have to remember that he only has 99 total at-bats through the first two months of the season.

But Sheffield too has been bitten by the injury bug as of late. His right hamstring and knee have been ailing him and it only adds to the list of casualties in the outfield, which includes Angel Pagan, Ryan Church, and Carlos Beltran. Beltran had the oddest of ailments with a stomach virus that has sidelined him as well as John Maine. Both Church and Jose Reyes will be in extended Spring Training for the first week of June to rehab their injuries.

So while the Mets are ailing indeed, they are still streaking and will look to get some of their starters back to health, on track and continue what looks to be another epic battle for the NL East crown.

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