After rocky road trip, 3 ways Mets can improve

June 3rd, 2019

PHOENIX -- The Mets will be glad to return to New York after a disappointing West Coast road trip.

The club’s road woes continued as it dropped the finale against Arizona at Chase Field, 7-1, on Sunday afternoon to conclude a 2-5 road trip. After losing three of four games to the Dodgers and two of three to the D-backs, the Mets haven’t notched a road series win since April 1-3 at Miami.

New York has lost 17 of its last 21 road contests and fell to 1-6 in rubber games this season.

“We want to win games. When we lose, we’re frustrated,” said Mets starter Steven Matz, who allowed five runs on eight hits and two walks in six innings and took the loss. “It’s over with now. But everybody wants to go out there and win the games. I would say we’re frustrated. We think we can do better than the way we’ve been playing.”

Here are three areas in which the Mets must improve in order to stay in the postseason hunt:

1) Find more offensive consistency
After scoring 20 runs through the first three games vs. the Dodgers, the Mets were shut out in Thursday’s finale at Los Angeles. They scored five runs on both Friday and Saturday at Arizona, but they scored only one after the fourth inning Saturday, which led to the D-backs’ 11-inning comeback win.

On Sunday, New York’s only run came on a leadoff homer in the second as Arizona right-hander Merrill Kelly fanned 10 over 7 2/3 dominant innings.

“We can’t allow people to have their best games of their career against us. That’s the bottom line,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “We’ve got to go out there and consistently get it done. We beat up on [Zack] Greinke a little bit [on Saturday], who’s one of the better pitchers in the league. And then you have a night like tonight. That kind of inconsistency just is not going to win you games. That is why we are where we are in the standings and what our record looks like right now. We’re just too inconsistent.”

Second baseman Robinson Cano is hoping to return from the injured list Tuesday, and while he’s batting only .241 in 45 games in his first season with the Mets, perhaps the addition of a veteran bat could help the lineup find a bit more consistency.

2) Get better showings from the bullpen
Early in the trip, the Mets continued to rely heavily on their late-inning trio of closer Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia and Robert Gsellman. But it didn’t lead to their intended results, and it hurt the team later in the week.

Diaz had a rare meltdown in Wednesday’s loss to the Dodgers, allowing four runs in one-third of an inning and blowing the save in his fifth appearance in seven days. Familia also appeared in five games during that span, which culminated in him allowing a run in one inning in Wednesday’s loss.

Both Diaz and Familia were unavailable on Thursday and Friday. Then, Familia gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning on Saturday.

“I know I’m not having the season I want to be having, but every time I go out there, I’m trying to make my pitch and trying to get my job done,” said Familia, who has a 6.56 ERA in 24 games. “I feel good, my arm feels good and I feel healthy. I’m one of those pitchers where the more I pitch, I feel better.”

The return of Seth Lugo should help the bullpen, because he will also be relied on to pitch in high-leverage situations. Lugo came off the injured list and pitched Friday, so Callaway didn’t want to use the right-hander in back-to-back games immediately. That’s why Lugo didn’t pitch in Saturday’s 11-inning game. But that will change in similar scenarios in the future.

Plus, Monday will be the Mets’ first off-day since May 13 after playing a stretch of 20 straight days with a game. That will allow the most-used relievers to rest before opening a seven-game homestand, when they’ll look to lower the club’s 4.87 bullpen ERA.

3) Win more on the road
This is an obvious one, but it’s something the Mets need to do better as their 13-22 road record is the second worst in the National League. Before this road trip, New York won six out of seven games at home against Washington and Detroit.

But now, the Mets are three games below .500, five games behind the Phillies in the NL East and four back of the Braves in the NL Wild Card race.

“We play great at home, and then we go on the road and what we did on the road is not acceptable,” Callaway said. “We put ourselves in a position to win more games than we did, but we lost them, so it doesn’t matter what positions you put yourself in, you’ve got to go get the job done. We’ll continue to work, we’ll continue to come every day ready to go and learn and get better. We have to do better.”