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Mets have mettle for in-season rebound

2016 club also faced rash of injuries before run to Wild Card
May 5, 2017

This looks familiar. It's another season with misery going into extra innings for anybody with an orange interlocking "NY" on his cap.Let's see ...• The Mets have one, five, seven guys on the disabled list.• Except for a 16-5 victory Wednesday night in Atlanta, the Mets have struggled on offense,

This looks familiar. It's another season with misery going into extra innings for anybody with an orange interlocking "NY" on his cap.
Let's see ...
• The Mets have one, five, seven guys on the disabled list.
• Except for a 16-5 victory Wednesday night in Atlanta, the Mets have struggled on offense, and their pitching hasn't been much better. They've ranked among baseball's worst teams in batting average, on-base percentage, ERA and opponents batting average.
• They were picked by most folks to challenge the Nationals at the top of the National League East, but the Mets have spent much of the early season moving down or sideways in the standings.
In case you're wondering, the last time such woes happened to the Mets, they recovered nicely. I'm not talking about that "You Gotta Believe" bunch of Tug McGraw or even the Miracle Mets of '69. I'm going all the way back to last season, when the Mets roared down the stretch to earn a spot in the NL Wild Card Game. Once there, they lost to Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, but the fact that the 2016 Mets rebounded to reach the postseason was impressive enough.
So can they do it again this year?
"Yeah, of course we can," Mets pitcher Matt Harvey said quickly, suggesting only the foolish would think otherwise. "As a player here in the clubhouse, you don't look at the bad things going on as something you need to bring into your head, but we know the situation. Obviously, our job now is to play and win with who we have in our clubhouse regardless of the injuries."
Sounds good. It's just that many of the Mets' players on the sidelines rank among baseball's Who's Who. Take Noah Syndergaard, owner of the speediest average fastball in the Major Leagues last season. He missed a start last week after biceps and shoulder issues. Even so, Syndergaard pitched Monday, only to leave for the disabled list in the second inning with a partially torn right lat muscle.
A few days earlier, the Mets lost their top slugger for a while when Yoenis Cespedes pulled his left hamstring. He's on the disabled list with Syndergaard, along with Seth Lugo (inflamed elbow), Lucas Duda (hyper-extended elbow), David Wright (herniated disk), Brandon Nimmo (rehab assignment) and Steven Matz (Inflamed elbow).
Which brings us to those who remain on the Mets, and it's a formidable group heading into a weekend series in Miami. We're talking about players ranging from perennial All-Star infielder Jose Reyes to Harvey, with his lifetime ERA around 3.00 after four-plus seasons, to Curtis Granderson, the introspective outfielder in his 14th Major League season.
"I think the thing that people here in the clubhouse and in this organization realize is there were a lot of pieces to get us to where we were last year, and the majority of them are still here," Granderson said, referring to those mentioned earlier along with second baseman Neil Walker, catcher Travis d'Arnaud, outfielder Michael Conforto and others. "So whether one isn't in the lineup or one is on the disabled list, all of the other pieces that were instrumental in getting us there can easily slide in. They can easily switch positions, and they can easily bat in a different spot.
"On the pitching side, we have guys flexible enough to be a starter or a reliever, and it ties into everything else. It gives us a lot of depth. So from that side of it, it doesn't matter what team we put out there. We know the guys are capable of getting it done, because we've done that."
Like last season. At one point, the Mets had such a rash of injuries that they were without three of their five starting pitchers from Opening Day (Jacob deGrom, Matz and Harvey). Given that and the inability of those Mets to produce runs on a consistent basis, they stumbled so badly through June and July that they were a mess by the middle of August.
Then a couple of things happened. Bartolo Colon and Syndergaard continued to pitch well, and they were joined by sharp performances from rookies Robert Gsellman and Lugo. In addition, Asdrubal Cabrera and Reyes were among those who followed Granderson's lead with clutch moments at the plate, and before long, the Mets went from a 60-62 record on Aug. 19 to winning 27 of their final 40 games to reach the playoffs.
"Not a 100 percent sure why we turned it around last year," Granderson said. "I guess it was just getting a chance to play at the end of the season against teams in our division and realizing that if we win this particular series, we can close a lot of ground. There also was the other side of it. If we don't, we'll be out of it, so we were basically in a situation where we could control our own destiny. We were playing the Phillies, Braves, Nationals and the Marlins, games in our division, which were more impactful, giving us a chance to move up more."
Since it's just May, the current Mets haven't the need for urgency, at least not at the moment. Then again, the Nationals are surging. With an offense that leads the Major Leagues in a slew of categories and a pitching staff that is peerless when it comes to quality starts, they sit atop the NL East after spending much of this season with baseball's best record.
"I think if anything, you acknowledge what a team like Washington has done and what it's capable of doing," Granderson said. "They pitch well. They can swing the bat well. A lot of guys can help that team, and you get a chance to see that. But you also have to understand that we play them at their place two more times, and they come to play us two more times, and a lot's going to change between now and all of those other times we face each other."
This won't change for the Mets: Their resiliency.
Did I mention last season?

Terence Moore is a columnist for