The National League has a 3.85 ERA this season and a 3.93 ERA since the break. Ignoring that the Mets play in a pitcher’s park, just two of their pitchers, Manny Acosta and Tim Byrdak, have better-than-average ERAs since the break. Their 4.95 team ERA ranks dead last in the NL.
So it’s been bad. We’re at the point where Manny Acosta has a legitimate case as the Mets best pitcher in the second half. Manny Acosta, the guy who was walking almost a batter an inning in Buffalo earlier this season. Excluding him and Byrdak, no one has pitched well since the break, and only some have pitched better than awful.
To be fair, it’s not all on the pitchers. R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese both have excellent strikeout-to-walk numbers and neither has given up many home runs . . . but they both given up a ridiculous number of hits considering everything else. Some of that is on the Mets’ fielding, which has been dismal since the break. Fangraphs ranks the Mets last in UZR, their fielding metric, in August. Justin Turner’s range has clearly eroded with his injuries, and the loss of Carlos Beltran and Daniel Murphy and return of David Wright has hurt the Mets a tick defensively as well.
The thing is . . . in terms of getting to balls and turning them into outs, the Mets haven’t been much worse this season than last season (.706 defensive efficiency this year, .704 last year). It’s just that they’re really, really bad, maybe the worst team in the league, at just everything else you need to do to prevent runs from scoring: Their catchers don’t throw well, the pitchers don’t hold runners on, their infielders don’t turn double plays, and their outfielders have more errors than assists. There’s probably a 20-30 run difference between this season and last in the combination of those four things.
This doesn’t excuse the pitching, of course. Because that’s been awful to watch too. There isn’t a reliever on the team who makes me think, “Oh, good. He’ll stop this mess.” To figure out if a lead is safe, I do mental calculations to see if the number of runs the Mets are ahead is greater than the number of outs the bullpen needs to get. If it isn’t, then they’re going to give up the lead. Only four run leads are safe in the ninth, and seven run leads in the eighth.
The pitching and defense have both been pretty miserable, and the Mets have been terrible at preventing runs in the second half. And that, more than anything, is why they’re 14-22 since the break.