ATLANTA -- For the Mets, change did not beget change.
When Steve Cohen took over as owner last November, optimism rang brightly that the Mets not only would become perennial contenders, but would do so quickly. Featuring two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and incoming All-Star Francisco Lindor, New York had a roster designed to win now. Ensuing years, the thought went, would only bring additional stability.
But the Mets did not win. To the contrary, their 5-0 loss to the Braves in Sunday’s series finale at Truist Park was their 85th of the season, marking the fourth time in five years that the team lost more games than it won. Since earning consecutive playoff berths in 2015-16, the Mets have finished no better than third place in the NL East, at an average of more than 14 games out of first.
“The first thing that comes to mind is the disappointment of not achieving the goal that we were talking about from the offseason to Spring Training,” said manager Luis Rojas, whose job status will be the Mets’ first order of offseason business. “It’s just disappointing that we didn’t get to where we wanted to.”
By Sunday, all that remained was for the Mets to play their remaining game, which became their 13th shutout loss of the season. Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs in the first, Trevor Williams gave up three in the third and the Mets mustered merely three hits against Braves pitching.
Outside of team record books, none of it mattered much. Two of the club’s best players, impending free agents Marcus Stroman and Javier Báez, elected not to participate in the finale. The rest went quietly, much as they had all season.
“I’ve just got to play better,” said Lindor, the Mets’ $341 million offseason addition who hit .230 with a .734 OPS. “That’s the No. 1 thing, definitely. But we dealt with a lot of adversity this year, lots of ups and downs this year. I haven’t really sat down and reflected on how the year went. That’s one for the offseason.”
Rojas stole a few moments to reflect, noticing that the Truist Park scoreboard displayed both team’s records throughout the game. New York’s 77-85 final mark struck him as markedly disappointing, particularly when juxtaposed with Atlanta’s 88-73 record -- the latter enough to win the NL East with relative ease, the former good enough only for third place.
And so on a day that played host to the madness of the American League Wild Card race, the NL West crown and all associated tiebreaker permutations, the Mets ended their season quietly, disappointedly.
“We’re all looking forward to working as hard as we can in the offseason to continue to be better,” Lindor said.
Before the game, Rojas held a team meeting, addressing the likelihood that significant change will occur this winter. The Mets are currently looking for a new president of baseball operations. They could soon begin searching for a new manager as well, in addition to new coaches, new executives, and of course, new players -- an outfielder, a pitcher, perhaps a third baseman.
Much of it could have been avoided had the Mets played better. Instead, that final record on the scoreboard wound up defining them.
“We were playing pretty good baseball at one point in the season,” Rojas said, “and that fell apart.”