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In the end, the Mets lost so outrageously that their elimination from the playoff competition was just an afterthought. When they fell against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night, the Mets won their fifth straight season without a playoff spot. It was the 33rd loss in 50 games since the end of July.
“I wouldn’t say we didn’t go down without a fight,” outfielder Michael Conforto told reporters at a video press conference. “I would not say that. I think we fought; We didn’t get the victories. But our boys – we fight every day. “
Because of me; Nobody would say the Mets didn’t try. But anyone can try. It also takes talent, brains, and luck to win, and other teams have had more than the Mets.
That includes the Brewers, their elimination night hosts, who ran away with the National League Central to land their fourth straight post. The Mets have never had a streak of playoff appearances in more than two years and would certainly love to bring on the Brewers’ young architect, David Stearns, to lead their baseball operations.
But, unfortunately, Stearns has a contract with a stable, well-run organization in Milwaukee. The Mets organization still strives for these qualities. As the Mets struggled to get the most out of the young elite pitching that led them to the 2015 World Series, Stearns and the Brewers developed so much of it that they took a deep run this October.
For the Mets this flag run was of course as good as it could be. Two of their esteemed mid-2010s starters, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, had strong, healthy seasons – but none works for the Mets anymore. However, right-handed Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard do so mainly as phantoms.
DeGrom’s stats this season read like a fantasy for a high-leverage reliever: 92 innings, 146 strikeouts, and a 1.05 ERA, unfortunately for the Mets, deGrom is a starter putting all those numbers together before the All-Star break Has. His arm couldn’t withstand the stress of repeatedly whipping fastballs at 99 mph.
At speed, more heat can often mean less time on the hill – a lesson Syndergaard painfully learned in his sophomore season lost to Tommy John’s surgery. Syndergaard and deGrom could return sometime in the last week of the season but that would be too late to help the Mets make the playoffs.
The fate of the team that missed the postseason seemed unlikely on July 31, when the Mets were 56-48 and held a five-game lead at NL East. A week later they had completely lost that lead, and when they were eliminated on Saturday they were nine games ahead of first place, a season high. Milwaukee completed a three-game sweep of the Mets on Sunday.
The Atlanta Braves lead the division, partly because their general manager Alex Anthopoulos acted aggressively in the trading market in July.
Like the Mets with deGrom, the Braves lost their best player to an injury in mid-July. However, when outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. tore his right anterior cruciate ligament, the Braves knew he was ready for the season and traded in for four outfielder: Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler.
Lacking clarity on deGrom’s status, the Mets added a starter, Rich Hill, to the rotation. Hill has done well, and the Mets’ largest trade acquisition in July, infielder Javier Baez, was in tears in September when he auditioned for a new deal. But the Mets weren’t helping each other enough, as manager Luis Rojas suggested after Saturday’s defeat.
“We played irregularly in the second half, we made mistakes, not like in the first half,” said Rojas. “The pitching wasn’t the same, not like in the first half. We hit a bit, but the schedule was different. We came across teams that are gaining momentum, who have also done a good job on time to increase their offensive. “
Rojas faces an uncertain future as the Mets’ new owner, Steven A. Cohen, searches again – with the team’s president, Sandy Alderson – for a baseball operations manager. This will be a major change for Cohen after the embarrassing episodes with Jared Porter and Zack Scott. Porter was fired from general manager in January for sending dozens of indecent and explicit text messages to a reporter while working for another team, and Scott, his assistant successor, was on administrative leave this month after he was arrested for driving was drunk while.
Perhaps Cohen’s wealth and drive can lure a seasoned veteran like Theo Epstein or Billy Beane to Citi Field. Perhaps his impulsive tweets – and the organizational dysfunction that survived the Wilpons – will make the job less attractive than Cohen might think.
Either way, the Mets need to figure out why so many hitters, including Conforto, Francisco Lindor, James McCann, Jeff McNeil and Dom Smith, were below expectations in 2021. Aside from the bullpen and a handful of other players – starter Marcus Stroman first baseman Pete Alonso, infielder Jonathan Villar – no one stayed healthy and gave the Mets what they wanted.
“We have great players,” said Conforto. “A rough year doesn’t define these guys.”
Say this for the Mets: you are never lacking in confidence. But after another tough year, one has to wonder how great these players really are and who will be entrusted with making them better.