David Wright, New York Mets Should Be Worried about Worst Start in 18 Years

Ash MarshallSenior Analyst IApril 15, 2010

NEW YORK - APRIL 10:  David Wright #5 of the New York Mets looks on against  the Washington Nationals during their game on April 10, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The New York Mets are off to their worst start in 18 years following Chris Iannetta’s walk-off blast at Coors Field Wednesday night.

So much for that fast start to 2010 that everyone was calling for.

Before last night's loss, the Mets had not started a season 2-6 since 1992. Only a victory in the series finale against the Rockies Thursday will stop them from dropping to 2-7 for the first time since 1974.

Sure, there have been some horrible starts to the season before, but if you discount the first few years of the team’s existence, this ranks right up there.

After going 0-8 to open the season back in 1962 and 1963 and 1-7 in 1964, the Mets have had just five other seasons where they have posted just two victories through their first eight games: 1966, back-to-back seasons in 1974 and 1975, 1983, and 1992.

In each case except ’74, they won their ninth game of the year.

You could probably add 2005 to the list of slow starts, but the memories of an opening week 0-5 record were quickly mitigated by six consecutive wins, including a three-game sweep of the Astros in Houston.

As has been noted before, the problem with the Mets is not necessarily their hitting, but their pitching. When Johan Santana gets battered around, you know it’s going to be a tough next four games.

The only two games the Mets have won this year have been blowouts. There was the Opening Day 7-1 victory over the Marlins, which apparently gave fans so much misplaced optimism, followed four days later by a 8-2 win at home to the Nationals.

It’s more interesting to see what has happened in the six games they have lost. Two games have been in extra innings following a valiant fight back, and three more have been by two runs or fewer.

In total, the Mets are 0-5 in games decided by two runs.

The only time they have been truly overmatched was in Tuesday’s opener against Colorado, when John Maine imploded for eight runs and three walks in three innings. Nate Robertson handcuffed the Mets one week ago, but even in that game the bullpen did its job and gave New York every chance to mount a rally.

I would be more worried about the fact that the Mets have not scored more than three runs in half of their games. If hitting is indeed the team’s strength, the hit-and-miss pitching has no chance to win games if the run support isn’t there.

David Wright and Jeff Francoeur have been as good as advertised, and the new additions of Jason Bay (.258 average) and Rod Barajas (.241, two home runs) have been serviceable if not spectacular.

Bay hasn’t shown the power which fans know is right there, and his double-digit strikeouts are worrying so few games into the season. When you pay that much for your left fielder, you expect more than serviceable, but I’m in no doubt that he’s one of the club’s top two bats.

The Mets’ lineup, though, has bigger headaches than Bay, even if they did pony up top coin to lure him from Fenway.

Mike Jacobs has found life in the majors hard so far, recording just three hits and one run in 18 at-bats, and Gary Matthews Jr. is batting a pitiful .176. Luis Castillo also looks to be in an early-season funk, and only the return of Jose Reyes this past weekend has forced light-hitting Alex Cora to spend some time on the pine.

Whether the players care, or even know, about the possibility of making the club’s worst start in 36 years, I’m hoping to see the bats come alive today. A hit parade against a tough pitcher won’t be easy, but if a hitting team can’t get the offense going in Colorado, how on earth do they expect to get it started against the Cardinals, Cubbies, and Braves?

The Mets, Beltran or no Beltran, were supposed to be the ones coming out of the gate flying in 2010, proving that 2009 was the exception rather than the norm. Instead, it's the Phillies who are 7-1 and off to their best start in 17 years. It's still early in the year, but once again the Mets are on the outside looking in.