After a 5-13 start, the Mets have won four straight games in an attempt to get back to respectability. While the most people in the New York area have been ready to tear apart the team and start from scratch, the players are trying to prove that they still can win.
Let me start off by saying that the Arizona Diamondbacks are not a good team, so a home sweep may not mean anything. However, there are a lot of little things to take from this past series that could lead to more positive performances.
The biggest improvement has been the pitching staff, most notably the bullpen. During the four-game win streak, the bullpen has allowed only one earned run in nine innings. So have the relievers who were struggling a week ago finally fix their mechanics? Well, not exactly. The improved numbers also have a lot to do with a changing of roles.
In only a few appearances, Jason Isringhausen has shown that he could be a very serviceable setup reliever. Pedro Beato has also been consistent enough to get an increased workload. Along with Francisico Rodriguez, these are the three men who would pitch in close games with a lead.
No team is going to have seven shutdown relievers in their bullpen, but if the Mets can get three solid players for the close games, the remainder of the ‘pen can pitch in a more relaxed atmosphere with a big lead, like they did on Sunday. The key is for Terry Collins to keep every pitcher fresh, and not overwork the 38-year-old Isringhausen.
The bullpen success also has to be attributed to the ability of the starters to go deeper in games. Dillon Gee pitched six solid innings while giving up two earned runs on Saturday. Statistically, that was the worst start among Mets starters in the past turn through the rotation. Even R.A. Dickey pitched eight innings to help the relievers, despite being in a losing effort.
It is much easier to run an efficient bullpen when starters are consistently going seven innings, something that was not seen from the Mets over the first few weeks of the season.
In addition to pitching success, the lineup also appears stronger now than ever. While Mets fans were not excited about Jason Bay’s return, he really has lengthened the lineup and is a vast improvement over Willie Harris or Scott Hairston. Even if he does not regain the form that caused the Mets to sign him to the large contract in 2010, most scouts agree he will do much better than his six home runs a year ago.
Another great addition to the lineup has been Daniel Murphy. Although Terry Collins has not officially announced Murphy as his second basemen, there is not much more he could do to prove himself. Not only has he made some spectacular plays at his new position, but he is also a hard worker and continues to learn from his mistakes. More importantly, he really helps the team with his bat.
As a second basemen, Murphy is hitting .306/.390/.500 in his triple stat line. Yet the team believes he is still more valuable as a utility man off the bench. Even if it did make sense to give a good hitter less at bats, as a pinch hitter he is only 1-for-10. Hopefully, the organization makes the correct decision and he becomes an everyday player.
At this point of the season, it is more important to see how the team is playing rather than counting wins and losses. They’re not as bad as their losing streak of seven and they’re not as good as their winning streak of four.
However, the improvements we have seen are not an apparition. The team has added two big bats to the lineup, got a seemingly reliable set-up man, and showed they have insurance starter in Dillon Gee. Maybe these Mets are not as bad as we thought, even as of just a week ago.