As the first month of the 2009 season ends, with a two game losing streak to division rival Florida and our first nine win month since 2004, we're forced on a day off, to look at this club that we thought was a playoff team and discuss what's wrong.
I don't down play the impact the starting rotation is having on this team, I simply feel that the offense is having much more of an impact and is a bigger concern then the rotation. Santana is a stud, Pelfrey and Maine are coming around, and the fifth starters spot is always going to be weak. The rotation's biggest concern, as it always has been is Oliver Perez.
There is a great debate over which area is more troubling, the rotation or the offense. I believe it to be the offense but here are some interesting numbers, for you to decide for yourself.
I'm not minimizing how bad the rotation has been, it's ranked 14th in the league with an ERA of 5.09 and has only provided 7 quality starts ( 35%). The rotation has allowed 70 runs ( 65 earned ) and BAA is .255.
The league average for ERA is 4.65. The rotation is well over an acceptable rate and they are compounding things by not getting deep into games.
As advertised, the bullpen is the best in the league, they have the best ERA 3.22 (next best is 3.50) and are converting 80 percent of their chances, so far this season. They've allowed 27 runs and batters are hitting .254.
What this tells me, is that (for the most part) if the Mets are trailing in a game, it happens early. They have numerous chances to catch up and they have the comfort of knowing that if they give the pen a lead, on most nights, their going to win.
Thanks to the numbers that the pen has put up, overall the pitching staff doesn't have a horrible ranking. The entire pitching staff is ranked 9th in the NL and has an ERA of 4.41 which is better then the league average.
For a little perspective, the Phillies are dead last in team ERA with 5.63. They also have two more wins, swept Florida and are a game out of first.
A lead of three or less is considered a hold or save opportunity because it's reasonable to believe that a team should be able to score three runs in any given inning. So by the numbers we know that in most games the Mets have multiple opportunities to comeback in a game, because it's the rotation giving up most of the runs not the pen.
How big are the leads I'm expecting the offense to over come? In the 13 losses, 10 of them are by three runs or less (five 1 run losses, three 2 run and two 3 run), two were by four runs and only one was a blow out of seven runs.
Basically in 10 games that the Mets have lost they had every opportunity to win the game, despite a poor showing by the rotation and have been unable to comeback. What makes it even more frustrating is that the Mets had early leads in eight of their losses and after the rotation gave back the lead, no matter how small they lost.
At first glance you wouldn't think the Mets would have difficulty scoring, they have the third best team batting average and OBP in the National League, with a combined total BA of .282 and .362 OBP. But after that, the numbers begin to drop off significantly, the team is dead last in extra base hits and home runs.
They are 11th in RBI's with 87 which is well below the league average at 93. Their .411 Slg. Pct. is ninth in the league and they are seventh with runs scored (team has scored 96 runs while the pitching staff has allowed 97).
With runners on base, the batting average drops to .266 ( ranked 7th), scoring position .252 ( ranked 8th ), two out RISP .271 ( ranked 5th ) and bases loaded the Mets drop all the way down to 13th with a .179 BA. As far as their slugging percentage during all of these situations, it's basically about the same, around the 10th best and .390, however; in bases loaded situations while it's still ranked tenth, just as the rest of the league dips so do the Mets with a .321 Slg. pct.
Back to the point about what is the most critical concern of this team, most can agree that the rotation hasn't been great but aside from one blow-out the score has been close. It also seems that the pen, in general, isn't giving up runs, so the offense has multiple opportunities to make comebacks against small leads. With the third best batting average in the league, how is it possible for a team to lose 10 games by three runs or less?
The Mets offense is failing to produce, during critical situations which I believe to be the direct cause of their losing record. The team is hitting .300 innings 1-6 but when it counts in the last three innings their BA drops to a mere .240.
Every single offensive statistic drops later in games and the more pressure that is put on the team. Matt Cerrone of Metsblog posted about the team under achieving in which he says the team has left 173 runners on base and are 0-7 in the last game of a series.