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Failures of Mets–and Yankees–dump Mets from first place

The Mets have myriad problems on defense and with their offense.

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac


Whether or not the Mets ever return to first place this season after being knocked out of the National League East’s top perch on Wednesday, one irony is assured: the crosstown Yankees have been catalysts so far in the Mets’ up-and-down season.

When the Mets looked unbeatable and reeled off 11 consecutive victories in April, it was the Yankees who jolted them back to reality by bombing Jacob deGrom on a Friday night, ending the Mets’ winning streak and eventually taking two of three games in that series.

The Mets have never been the same since.

And, this week, with a chance to help the Mets, the Yankees instead dumped a pair of games in Washington that put the Nats into the NL East’s top spot.

Of course, the Mets’ performance had a little to do with this changing of the guard, too. After getting three straight brilliant pitching performances from deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey while winning three games in a row (two over the Brewers and one over the Cardinals in 14 innings), Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon each turned in atrocious pitching performances in a pair of embarrassing and uncompetitive losses to St. Louis.

For Niese, this start and his previous one against the Cubs last week continued a career-long pattern of disintegrating in one bad inning as soon as things go wrong. Yes, it’s true that the defense seems to save its worst games for the days Niese is on the mound. But the sulky lefty never seems able to pick his teammates up in these spots. If the Mets are to actually play “meaningful games in September,” let’s be honest, is Jon Niese the kind of pitcher you’d trust in a critical game?

The Mets have myriad problems on defense and with their offense, but Niese’s recent stumbles combined with those of Colon, who is 6-3 but with the arrow pointing straight down, the organization might soon have the justification necessary not only to retain Syndergaard in the rotation, but to promote Steven Matz from Triple-A and try the prized 23-year-old lefty in the rotation, too.

Of course, all the golden arms in the world–imagine a rotation that includes Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz and Rafael Montero–won’t change the likelihood that these talented pitchers may be doomed to find themselves trailing, 1-0, in the seventh inning every night, backed by a perpetually anemic offense.

Consider that the Mets’ leading home run hitter right now has five, and that’s the guy everybody can’t wait to see replaced: Wilmer Flores, whose defense is so bad that his medium power isn’t enough to offset his unreliable glove and rangeless play at shortstop.

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