4 Things the New York Mets Must Do to Stay in the Hunt
The second half of the baseball season is underway, and the New York Mets have stumbled out of the starting gate.
The Mets lost their first five games after the All-Star break, a disappointing beginning to the last half of the baseball season. Worst of all, they lost all five to the top-two teams in the division.
Fortunately, New York picked up the last game of a two-game series against Washington, keeping them a little bit closer in the division title chase. The Mets are seven games back of Washington, and sit in third place behind Atlanta.
It seems obvious that if the current Mets squad keeps playing the way they have recently, it will be near impossible to make the postseason, something the Mets haven't done since 2006.
Still, there is hope for New York as the trade deadline approaches and we reach the sweltering heat of August, a time that can make or break a team's playoff hopes.
Here are four things the Mets need to do if they want to keep their dreams of October alive.
Add to the Bullpen
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The Mets' bullpen has been a glaring issue throughout the season. To put it simply, it is the worst in the majors.
New York has been able to stay in the playoff picture despite horrible play from the pen. Mets' relievers have a league worst 5.03 ERA, and have lost 19 games for the Mets, a number only exceeded by Milwaukee's 22.
For the Mets to improve their bullpen, they will need to add at least one more piece that will have a true impact.
To start, the Mets need a closer that can stay healthy and provide consistent pitching in the last inning.
Frank Francisco had the role early in the season, but injuries have kept him off the field since last month. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reported that Francisco should begin rehab assignments next week, but the Mets need someone else they can trust to put on the mound in the ninth should Francisco falter or re-injure himself.
Bobby Parnell has struggled in the role as well. In the absence of Francisco, Parnell has underperformed, blowing his last two save opportunities.
Flamethrower Jonathan Broxton could be a good fit in New York. He has been successful for Kansas City in 2012, saving 20 games and blowing only three.
New York needs more than just a closer though, and they'll need to find a few players to build a solid pen around to stay in the playoff picture.
Keep Starting Pitchers Healthy
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Unlike the bullpen, Mets' starting pitchers have been surprisingly successful.
R.A. Dickey has been lights-out throughout the season, recording a 13-1 record with a 2.72 ERA. The knuckleballer is an All-Star and crucial to the team's success.
Johan Santana has been a tremendous surprise for New York. Santana is only 6-6, but has been strong throughout, including the franchise's first no-hitter.
Jonathon Niese has become a strong pitcher in the National League after two average seasons with the Mets. Niese was 20-21 in the last two seasons, but he is already 7-4 this season.
These three have all managed to stay healthy this season, but others, like Dillon Gee, have been forced off the field.
The Mets' rotation is vital to their success, and their health is an important aspect to a playoff appearance.
Be More Active on the Basepaths
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The Mets need a better way to score and make an impact on the field, and being active on the basepaths is a great way to do so.
New York lost their all-time steals leader before the season began when Jose Reyes left for Miami. Since then, they have had a void in steal production.
The Mets have the least stolen bases in the NL with only 45, and have struggled to find someone to take the role of speedster.
No Mets have more than nine stolen bases thus far, with David Wright and Andres Torres taking the main roles.
Hit for Power
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Besides the bullpen, another huge issue this season has been the lack of power from the plate.
If the Mets are looking to compete against the toughest teams in the league, they will need to add a power-hitting righty to their current roster.
Players like Kelly Shoppach and Josh WIllingham could be on the trade market for the Mets to add, but a big addition to the Mets' power could come from one of their own.
As Jason Bay returns from injuries he has the opportunity to make the impact Mets fans hoped he would when he came to New York for a rather large sum of money.
If Bay plays to his potential, the Mets could be on their way to a solid team that could make noise late in the season.