Reviewing the New York Mets' August
What a rough month.
The New York Mets continued their second-half swoon with a less than stellar August.
The only real overriding positive about August for the Mets was the performance of their young starting pitchers, Matt Harvey and Colin McHugh, who have tried to convince Mets fans that the future is brighter than it seems.
So with the playoffs likely well out of the picture, what exactly is there for the Mets in September? It's going to be a combination of three things: playing the spoiler, finishing in 3rd place in the East, and trying to finish at .500.
To get back to .500, the Mets will have to win 19 of their last 30 games, so it will be a tall order to say the least.
Will they be able to accomplish those goals? Only time will tell, but what we do know is that it's time to look back on the August that was for the New York Mets.
August's Most Valuable Player: Ike Davis
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While the Mets may have tanked in the second half, Ike Davis has used this part of the season as a resurgence.
Long forgotten is Ike's painfully slow first two months. Davis led the charge offensively in almost every category, including five more home runs, giving him a team-high total of 25 for the season, and added 14 more RBI, upping his total to 74 on the season.
Possibly the most impressive stat of Ike's August, however, was his .300 batting average. Remember, this is a guy who hit .154 in the month of May.
To turn it around to the extent that Ike has is really a testament to his own work ethic and helps validate the team's decision to keep him around when he was at his lowest.
The biggest key to Ike's turnaround has been his extended patience at the dish and his ability to start putting the bat on the ball with more consistency. Ike struck out only 14 times this month, which was far and away his lowest strikeout total of any month.
Although Ike's August may not have even been his best month on the season, with the team and the season collapsing around him, he was one of the very few guys who kept on producing, and for that, he has to be the month's MVP.
Jon Niese: A resurgent Jon Niese posted a 2.29 ERA over three wins in the month and showed consistency throughout August.
August's Least Valuable Player: Josh Thole
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This one is painful for me to say, because I like him, but it's hard to argue against Josh Thole being August's LVP.
Now, Mets fans wondered going into the season if Thole would improve from last season, where we saw a light-hitting, defensively challenged catcher.
Off the bat, Thole looked like a new man. He hit .317 in April and showed considerable improvement behind the plate, specifically in handling R.A. Dickey's knuckleball.
But then the concussion came, and after missing about a month of the season, Thole has never been the same. Rock bottom has come for Thole in August.
Just to add to Josh Thole's woes, his 16 passed balls on the season are the highest in Major League Baseball and matches his total from last year with over a month of the season still to play.
Now granted, Thole has to catch one of the best knuckleballs we've seen in a long time, but considering that he had 16 passed balls all of last season, missed a month of this season and still has a month left to play, for me, that many passed balls is inexcusable.
It seems that management's patience with Thole is growing thin as well. This month, they made a move to acquire Kelly Shoppach from the Red Sox, and Shoppach has been getting a tryout of sorts with the Mets to see if he can be the man next season.
How can Josh Thole save his job? He needs to have a big September, both at the plate and behind it. If he can prove that he can be a solid average-hitter for the Mets and come through with men in scoring position, the Mets will stick by him.
If he can't, Josh Thole may become well acquainted with the bench next year.
Jason Bay: How bad has it been? Matt Harvey, who's only been with the team since mid-July, has one less multi-hit game than Bay. I wish I were making that up.
Chris Young: We may be seeing the end of the line for CY, putting up a 4.76 ERA over the last month.
August's Biggest Surprise: Matt Harvey
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If it's true that every gray cloud has a silver lining, then it is clear that the silver lining of August for the Mets was Matt Harvey.
Statistically, Harvey didn't exactly set the world on fire. His 2-2 record and 3.19 ERA over the month is admittedly average at best.
But where Harvey managed to surprise me and Mets fans in general was in his resiliency and in his incredible desire to win.
Harvey was shelled in the early going of the month, including allowing five runs in as many innings against the San Diego Padres. Even though it appeared that maybe that bump would be the beginning of the end to the feel good story that was Matt Harvey, the rookie battled back and has not allowed more than two runs in a game since.
Even more exciting to watch, Harvey is no slouch at the plate.
The guy had a .444 average at the dish this month, including posting three RBI. For a pitcher, and particularly a rookie pitcher, that's nothing short of amazing.
Really, what Matt Harvey has given the Mets is a reason to be hopeful for the future. His starts are fast becoming must-watches for fans and his success gives Mets fans reason to believe that there is a light at the end of this tunnel.
Matt Harvey has proven this month that regardless of how things turn out for the Mets this season, they have at least one solid, young pitcher ready to go for next season.
Kelly Shoppach: Whether or not he's a rat, he's performed well since his arrival in New York, including matching all other Mets' catchers combined in home runs.
Jon Rauch: The bullpen has been a disappointment all season and Rauch was a big contributor to that the past few months, but a 0.93 ERA this month shows that maybe he's turned the corner.
Ronny Cedeno: While the Mets' offense was floundering, Cedeno was thriving, putting up a .353 average in August.
Lowest Point of August: An Embarrassment Against the Rockies
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August 22nd was definitely the low point of the month for the Mets, but it may even be one of the low points of the season for the Amazin's.
Then the bullpen came in and all semblance of baseball would start to go down the tubes.
Almost immediately, Ramon Ramirez allowed a two run bomb to give the Rockies the lead.
The Mets would fight back thanks to an Ike Davis RBI single, and it was starting to look like maybe they were going to show off that fight that led to them being six games over .500 at the All-Star break.
Then Frank Francisco came in and got knocked around for three hits and two runs, essentially putting the game out of reach. Francisco would seal his sub-par performance by taking his frustrations out on the water cooler in the Mets' dugout.
Although I picked this game as the low point of the month due to the off-field news combined with the on-field embarrassment, really, the entire series against the Rockies could have been considered.
The Mets were swept in a four-game series at home by the lowly Rockies for the second straight year and their shortcomings led many people to start to wonder whether that Mets team we saw in the first half of the season was a mirage. Radio personality Mike Francesca even weighed in, blasting the Mets after the series.
In an ugly month for the Mets, this series was clearly the ugliest part.
August 8th: Any time you get railed 13-0 in your own building, I think that can be considered a bad day.
August 11th: Johan Santana's lowest point of the season, getting blasted for eight runs in only 1 1/3 innings of work.
August 24th: The Mets continued their slide by losing to the worst team in the NL, as they went their 7th straight game scoring two runs or fewer.
Highest Point of August: Mets Walk-off on the Astros
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In a month full of lows, sometimes you just need to appreciate the few highs that you get.
Throughout the month of August, the Mets really embarrassed themselves at home. Going into August 26th, the Mets were an ugly 3-9 at home in August.
With the team not only losing, but generally losing badly, there was very few reasons to cheer at Citi Field throughout the month.
Luckily, Jeremy Hefner turned in a masterful performance, holding the Astros scoreless going into the 9th. But a single, stolen base, and hard-luck double later, the game was tied.
On the fielding end of that double was the returning Lucas Duda, who just wasn't fast enough to make a sliding catch to preserve the 1-0 lead.
Most Mets fans had seen this story before and knew how it would end. Duda's confidence would be crushed, the bullpen would come in and allow another run or two, and the Mets would go quietly in the 9th.
But this time, the script was different. Robert Carson came in to get a line out to first. Lucas Duda threw a perfect strike from left field to home plate to nail Marwin Gonzalez from scoring the go ahead run. Bobby Parnell got a harmless ground out to end the inning tied.
Then, in the bottom of the 9th, Ike Davis struck again, hitting the first walk off home run of the season for the Mets, and even added a nifty 360 spin to hit the plate.
The bottom line is, yeah, the Mets needed two home runs and a walk-off to beat the worst team in the National League. Big deal. This was finally something that made Mets fans happy.
We had not seen the Amazin's fight back in so long, we almost forgot what it looked like, and although in the long run it was a meaningless 2-1 win, it was finally a bright spot in our building that Mets fans could hang their hat on.
You can follow Joe Campione on Twitter @jcamp459