Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at 1:00 PM
It took a long time for betting markets to figure out the New York Mets. It was assumed that they wouldn't compete for a divisional title, given their uncertain roster containing many injury prone players. Yet, they started the season like gangbusters.
*2-1 against St. Louis, who's turned out to be pretty good
*2-0 against Philadelphia, who's been surprisingly good
*3-0 at Washington, sweeping a projected league power
*3-0 at Miami, another sweep, though against a loser
*2-1 against Milwaukee, who's been playoff caliber thus far
That adds up to 12-2, as the Mets 11-1 start ran into a split in the last two games of the Milwaukee series. But, that wasn't a case of bullying a patsy schedule. The Mets didn't play the Marlins 14 times...or feast on the Reds and Padres. If you throw out the Miami series, the Mets went 9-2 vs. winning teams who were destined to be in the playoff hunt three months later.
By all measures, the Mets were "for real."
The market finally started to believe toward the tail end of that sequence. Maybe the Mets were ready to contend. They swept Washington at Washington for goodness sake!
Just as the market accepted the "new and improved" Mets, performance fell off a cliff. After going 11-1 out of the gate, the Mets went 17-34 the next 51 games heading into Wednesday afternoon's matchup in Atlanta. That includes an 0-6 homestand, followed later by a 1-8 home stand. New York lost series to Cincinnati and Baltimore.
The current tough road trip continues with visits to Arizona and Colorado. So, what's already bad in terms of recent form could get worse. Bleak!
Big picture...very likely another season flushed down the toilet. It would take a miracle to make any sort of run at even a Wildcard given how well all the second-place teams are currently faring. The Mets went from being perceived as a possible equal to Washington in mid-April, to being an actual equal to the dregs of the Majors over the last two months. Recent pricing has reflected what appears to be a new reality. The Mets are a laughingstock once again.
What went wrong? A little bit of everything, partially hidden by the impact of Citi Field.
*OFFENSE: Not much potency. Though, some of that is the penalty that comes from playing home games in a pitchers' park. Citi Field has been particularly harsh on offense early this season (when you compare total runs scored and allowed in home games to road games). That makes a mediocre offense seem horrible. Too much blame has been aimed at the bats. Offense is just one issue.
*STARTING PITCHING: a weakness hidden by the ballpark (in combination with cool early season temperatures). NYM ranks in the middle of the National League in starting pitchers ERA before making any ballpark adjustments. That obviously drops them way down after you "neutralize" the stats.
*BULLPEN: a glaring problem. New York ranks #24 in the Majors in ERA...despite performing half the time in a pitcher's park...in the lower scoring league...in a season where scoring is way down after a re-adjustment to ball construction. They can let games get away in the middle innings. The bullpen is far from a sure thing to lock down a lead.
It's been a team collapse...not one where the pitching has been "okay" but the offense horrible. Once you make park adjustments, the pitching has been worse than the offense. The mainstream media is never going to get analysis right until it makes smarter ballpark adjustments!
What should handicappers do with the Mets going forward?
*Avoid the team at home, where the Mets are 13-21 this season
*Look at UNDERS in home games, which are 22-12 against the line
*Consider them as BIG DOGS on the road, due to a 15-14 record
The Mets can still offer value as huge road underdogs given the nature of parity in this sport. Even the worst teams have a shot to snare road victories. As long as the offense can't score at home, look at Unders at Citi Field (though monitor the impact of game time temperatures moving forward). You should consider fading the Mets as home favorites or in game near pick-em as well.
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