An Awful April for the Mets

Noah Syndergaard's injury was the cherry on top of a miserable month.

Noah Syndergaard's injury was the cherry on top of a miserable month.

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By Sam Belden

Noah Syndergaard’s injury was the cherry on top of a miserable month. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Let’s talk about the Mets.

They’re bad again. I can almost hear the uproar from the peanut gallery — “It’s the Mets! They were never not bad!” — but in case you didn’t notice, the last two seasons were a great time to be a part of the Flushing faithful. Between 2015 and 2016, the Mets rode an outstanding rotation and timely bursts of offense to a 177-147 record, winning a National League pennant along the way.

That success has eluded them this year. Through one month of the season, the Mets have stumbled out of the gate to a 10-14 mark. Seven players are on the disabled list, including Yoenis Cespedes. Noah Syndergaard’s lat strain will soon bring that number to eight. And on Sunday, the Mets lost to the Nationals by a score of 23-5.

Yeah, I know, it’s early. But the orange and blue are not in a good situation here. In recent seasons, they’ve been strong starters — since 2015, their record in the month of April is a fairly ridiculous 30-15. They needed every one of those early-season wins to reach the playoffs last year, and on paper, this team doesn’t look a whole lot different than the old model.

There’s still plenty of time to make a run, but like I said, the Mets roster has already been rocked by injuries. Health has been a big reason for those great April runs, but if they’re already limping, then what’s this team going to look like in August? If James Loney and Justin Ruggiano aren’t back in town by the summer, I’ll eat my hat.

And that’s to say nothing of the rotation, which has transformed before our eyes from one of the best in baseball to a below average-unit. Again, Syndergaard, the would-be ace, is out, and there’s no timetable for his return. Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler have been unimpressive in their long-awaited returns from injury. And Robert Gsellman, despite playing a hero role last September, is who we thought he was.

Yep, this was supposed to be the rotation that would lead the Mets to sustained success, a nice half-decade or so of being the top team in the Big Apple. Now, people are worrying about GM Sandy Alderson breaking up the band before the end of the season, and rightly so.

Know this: if the Mets are 36-51 at the All-Star break, as they’re on pace to be right now, stars are getting traded. Alderson has never apologized for his aggressive approach to roster construction, and if Harvey, for example, isn’t going to help the Mets win in the next two years, then he isn’t going to at all. Fans will gripe, but that’s the kind of approach that brought this team back to the postseason in the first place.

Even so, I don’t want it to happen. This team was supposed to win this year, by golly — rebuilding be damned. For now, the Mets still have time to turn things around. They may be in dire straits, but this organization, for all its flaws, is nothing if not full of surprises.