Grading the Mets' first-half performance

July 19th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Anthony DiComo's Mets Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The first half is in the books, with four Mets playing in the All-Star Game in Los Angeles. It’s been one of the finest first halves in history for the Mets, who endured their share of adversity but handled it without much issue, spending the last 96 consecutive days in first place. While the defending World Series champion Braves have charged up the standings of late, the Mets have managed to hold them back for now.

Heading into the break, it’s time to unsheathe the red ballpoint pen and grade the Mets for their performance so far:

Rotation: A
Considering the Mets played the entire first half without Jacob deGrom and much of it without Max Scherzer, it’s rather impressive that they managed to enter the All-Star break with a top-10 rotation ERA in the Majors. Tylor Megill was sensational early, while Carlos Carrasco was a steady contributor. In more recent times, Taijuan Walker and David Peterson have thrived. Preseason trade acquisition Chris Bassitt has been as advertised as a quality-start machine, and even Trevor Williams has contributed, allowing the Mets to run seven deep with effective starters despite deGrom’s absence.

The only thing missing has been deGrom’s best-pitcher-in-baseball moxie, which the Mets hope they’ll have back within a matter of days. This has the potential to be an A+ rotation if deGrom and Scherzer can stay healthy into October.

Lineup: B-
Statistically, this has been one of MLB’s most productive units in the first half, averaging more than 4.7 runs per game. It’s also been an inconsistent unit, ranking near the top of the league for much of April and May, but closer to the bottom in June and July. Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte have been regularly productive; the other half of the lineup has not.

Of note is the fact that nearly all the Mets’ designated hitter production has come from Alonso, who plays that position infrequently. Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis have struggled, giving the Mets reason to pursue DH upgrades at the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline.

Bullpen: B
It’s easy to criticize the Mets’ bullpen, because this unit certainly hasn’t been perfect. Outside of electric closer Edwin Díaz, every Mets reliever endured some form of inconsistency in the first half. But the team has found enough sources of quality pitching -- whether it was Drew Smith early, or Adonis Medina late, or even Stephen Nogosek or Colin Holderman for stretches -- to make do.

Like the rotation, it’s also easy to envision improvement for a bullpen unit that also ranked in the top third of the Majors in first-half ERA. Adam Ottavino has already blossomed into a trusted setup option. Trevor May should be back from the injured list soon, and the Mets are all but certain to acquire lefty relief help to supplement Joely Rodríguez. So long as Díaz remains a force at the back end (with the best strikeout rate in baseball), the Mets’ bullpen should be just fine.

Overall: A-
It’s hard to quibble with a team that spent most of the first half above a 100-win pace. That said, there are obvious improvements that must be made if the Mets want to reach their goals -- most notably DH production and lefty relief help. If the Mets shore up those two areas while welcoming deGrom back from the IL, it could make for a memorable second half.

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