The New York Mets held a healthy lead in the National League East division not so long ago.
However, they have been sliding for a while now, and the Philadelphia Phillies are already half-a-game back in the NL East standings.
Phillies win, cutting the Mets' NL East lead to just half a game — its lowest point since the morning of May 17.
First place will be on the line tomorrow night in Philadelphia. The Mets will open the series having spent 90 consecutive days alone atop the division.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 5, 2021
The Phils are not the only team putting pressure on the Mets, as the Atlanta Braves are just 1.5 games behind New York.
Several situations and circumstances can explain the Mets’ recent slide.
Here are some of the reasons behind the bad streak.
3. Taijuan Walker’s Recent Struggles
When Walker pitched in the All-Star Game, his ERA was in the mid-2.00s.
Now, after being hammered for 15 earned runs in his last three starts (14.2 innings), Walker’s season ERA is up to 3.86.
That number is actually closer to his career 3.84 mark and could be a more accurate reflection of who he is as a pitcher.
There is no question, however, that the Mets miss first-half Walker.
Over his last seven starts, Walker has a 7.34 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP.
Those numbers aren’t going to cut it.
It’s not a secret that the Mets have been through a lot this season from a health standpoint.
Right now, they are currently playing without their best position player, Francisco Lindor, and their top pitcher, deGrom.
The former is dealing with a grade 2 oblique strain, while the latter is out with forearm tightness.
DeGrom has had multiple stints on the injured list.
Jacob deGrom said his elbow inflammation is a separate issue from the forearm tightness that initially sidelined him — a sixth injury this season.
An MRI and CT scan did not reveal the source of the inflammation, he said.
“I feel like I was having the best year of my career.”
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) August 3, 2021
Lindor’s absence has diminished the Mets’ infield defense and forced them to play without their spiritual leader.
On the other hand, deGrom’s excellence every five days guaranteed the Mets the best chance to win.
They surely miss that, too, as Walker has been struggling mightily as of late.
Additionally, numerous players missed time with injuries this year.
Every team has to deal with them, but it’s hard to deny that the Mets have been among the most affected by them.
1. Ice-Cold Hitters
Explaining the Mets’ struggles is a complex exercise, but it’s not hard to identify a few struggling stars that performed admirably in 2020 and has been extremely disappointing in 2021.
Michael Conforto is a notorious case.
Last season, he slashed .322/.412/.515 and was one of the Mets’ best performers with a .927 OPS.
This year has been a struggle for him, as he is currently slashing .199/.329/.329 with an anemic .658 OPS.
Another 2020 breakout star, Dom Smith, has a .714 OPS this year after finishing last season with a .993 mark.
Those two men were appointed as the Mets’ starting corner outfielders after their fantastic 2020 performances.
As a result, the Mets expected some offensive production from them.
That hasn’t materialized yet, but they remain hopeful and eager to turn things around.
The Mets need them to succeed.