After completing a four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ballpark, and then taking the opener against the Washington Nationals, the Mets were four games over .500 and were only 6.5 games behind the Wild-Card leading Atlanta Braves on July 29th. They were playing great even after trading their center fielder Carlos Beltran.
Unfortunately for the Mets, the wheels fell off during a week that was very crucial for the team and their slim playoff chances. Although everyone knew that the Mets making the playoffs was extremely unlikely, the fighting Terry Collins continued to remain present in the playoff picture. Since July 29th, the Mets fell off big time.
During the past 13 games, the Mets have compiled a whopping 3-10 record. This includes series losses to the Nationals, the dreaded Florida Marlins, the Braves and now the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Mets are now three games under .500 and are 11.5 games back of the Braves.
Let's examine what has caused the Mets to get so cold so quickly.
The Beleaguered Bullpen
The bullpen has been absolutely horrendous during this stretch. This 13-game snide started with three consecutive late-inning bullpen implosions. Mets reliever Bobby Parnell gave up a game-winning hit to the Nationals' Ian Desmond on July 31st. Mets closer Jason Isringhausen then gave up a grand slam in the 10th inning to Florida Marlins slugger Mike Stanton on August 1st and then blew the save and got the loss on the second of August. Parnell then gave up a game-winning run to the Braves on August 7th.
What issue needs to be addressed the most during the off-season?
Even in the Mets wins during this stretch, the bullpen has given up some big runs. This includes giving up four runs against the San Diego Padres during the top of the eighth inning in a game that was close on August 8th.
Especially since the Mets traded K-Rod, the bullpen has been full of question marks. During this stretch the bullpen has blown leads and have put games out of reach for the Mets bats.
Ineffective Starting Pitching
The starting pitching has been inconsistent the whole year, but the pitching is another big question mark. With their ace Johan Santana gone all year, there hasn't someone on the pitching staff to "stop the bleeding." There isn't one of their pitchers who can shut out a team any given night.
Everyday Mets fans have no idea what to expect from each starting pitcher. Only two of the Mets' front five have winning records, and even their pleasant surprise Dillon Gee, has lost his magic as of late.
The Not-So-Scary Starting Lineup
Looking at the starting lineup before each game for the past week has been a really tragic thing to see. Everyone knows about the injuries the team has had this year with Ike Davis, David Wright and Jose Reyes, but seeing Willie Harris and Ruben Tejada in the same lineup won't necessarily scare any starting pitcher.
Besides those two great comebacks against the Padres, the Mets have not had the timely hitting necessary to come back in those games where they are behind because of the pitching. This is the result of not being able to put their strongest hitters on the field every day.
These are issues that have really hurt the Mets during this terrible 13-game span, but these will continue to be problems in 2012 if they are not addressed during the offseason.