Defending NL Champion New York Mets Off To Slow Start [Video]

The New York Mets have stumbled early in defense of their National League title, going 2-5 into the second week of the season.

Their latest was a 2-1 loss at home to the Miami Marlins last night, where they wasted a strong pitching performance from Noah Syndergaard, who allowed one run and struck out 12 batters in seven innings.

The only offense for New York came in the bottom of the first inning, on an RBI single from Lucas Duda. The Mets had just six hits in the game, while striking out 11 times to four Marlins pitchers.

Martin Prado won it for the Marlins when he hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth inning, scoring the speedy Dee Gordon. It was the Mets’ fourth consecutive loss, and they have scored just six runs in that span.

Thus far, the only team in the National League East that has performed worse than the Mets has been the rebuilding Atlanta Braves, who at 0-7 are tied with the Minnesota Twins for the worst record in Major League Baseball.

According to The New York Daily News, the Mets have already lost their first home series; this is in contrast to last year, when they did not do so until the last week of May.

Why the Slow Start for the Mets?

A sputtering offense has been the main reason for the Met’s slow start. Among the lowlights:

  • right fielder Curtis Granderson is batting.074 (2-for-27);
  • catcher Travis D’Arnaud is batting.105 (2-for-19);
  • second baseman Neil Walker, acquired in the off-season from Pittsburgh, is batting.214 (6-for-28);
  • first baseman Duda and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera are both batting.240 (6-for-25).

All of the hitters just mentioned are playing well below their career norms.

And as the Daily News quoted manager Terry Collins, playing in New York is very different from playing anywhere else, due to the media pressure.

“It’s drama here,” he said. “It’s not drama in Milwaukee. It’s not drama in Houston. It’s drama here. … But you know, here, there are expectations you have to live up to and that is on a daily basis.”

New York’s slow start can’t be blamed on their defense, which has committed just two errors in the first seven games.

Pitching Still a Strength for the Mets

Still just 23, Syndergaard has been one of the few bright spots for the Mets, sporting a 0.69 ERA over 13 innings, with two walks and 21 strikeouts.

Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets
Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets are off to a slow start. [Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images]
Jacob DeGrom and Bartolo Colon, who will be 43 in May, have done well, while Matt Harvey and Steven Matz, two of the Mets’ four talented young hurlers, have struggled. The Mets bullpen has generally been solid, as closer Jeurys Familia and Jerry Blevins have yet to be scored in on seven innings between them.

But because the season is young, Collins is not worried. “I’m not sitting here today down in the dumps saying, ‘OK, the season’s a waste,’ ” he told the Daily News.

Mets Coming Off an Impressive 2015

The Mets’ early struggles wouldn’t be nearly as profound if they weren’t coming off such an impressive 2015 season, where they finished 90-72, winning their division.

Among the highlights for the Mets were Yoenis Cespedes; after being acquired mid-season, he smashed 17 home runs and had a.942 OPS in 57 games. But especially impressive was their quartet of young starting pitchers: DeGrom, 27, went 14-8 with a 2.54 ERA and 205 strikeouts; Harvey, 26, went 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA after missing all of 2014; Jon Niese, 28, went 9-10 with a 4.13 ERA; and Syndergaard, 22, went 9-7 with a 3.24 ERA.

The Mets went on to beat the Dodgers in the Division Series, then swept the upstart Chicago Cubs to win the pennant. New York then lost the World Series to the Kansas City Royals and their air-tight defense, four games to one.

What do you think? Can the New York Mets recover from their slow start?

[Photo by Elsa/Getty Images]

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