We’re almost halfway through the 2023 season, and the most expensive team in major league history is closer to the bottom than the top. After a disappointing 7-6 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, the Mets and their nearly $500 million team went 35-42 (after taking into account the luxury tax) and advanced to the playoffs. The likelihood of doing so is decreasing and the number of questions is increasing. .
The Mets have won only five more than the Washington Nationals, but the team is bogged down in rebuilding and is the only team to avoid bottom of the NL East so far. The Atlanta Braves won their fifth straight division title and are in first place again on Sunday, but still lead the Mets by 15 games.
Manager Buck Showalter also appeared to concede on Sunday that his team had limited options to turn things around. Entering the eighth inning with a 6-3 lead over the Phillies, the Mets endured a disastrous four runs with just one hit. Showalter, who had been overworked recently, turned to less established bullpen options instead of using a good reliever to close out the game.
“It’s a frustration for the players and for everyone,” Showalter said after Sunday’s loss. “We shot all the bullets we had.”
Rookie left-hander Josh Walker had the bases loaded with two walks and one. Right-handed reliever Jeff Brigham has arrived with a big task on his shoulders. But Mets third baseman Brett Batty, 23, made a mistake throwing to second base, turning a potential double play into a score for the Phillies.
“There really is no excuse” Batty said. “That play had to happen 10 out of 10 times, and it cost the game, and it cost the series.”
The inning fell apart after that. With the bases loaded, Brigham walked Brandon Marsh, then hit Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner to allow three more runs and give the Phillies the lead.
“Hopefully there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Brigham said, adding, “There’s definitely a lot of pressure as the season progresses.”
The season is definitely overtaking the Mets. The roster, which includes star players Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso, had just a 16 percent chance of making the postseason after Sunday’s loss, according to Fungrafics. Before the season, the Mets were expected to battle Atlanta for the NL East title and even a World Series spot.
“Usually this happens: we don’t play well and people lose their jobs,” said Lindor. told reporters over the weekend. “But I don’t see us as a team that sells out. We see us as a team that keeps fighting and it will be there. increase.”
If he continues to lose, he may not be in a position to add reinforcements before the Aug. 1 trade deadline. Instead of targeting late-season additions, they may actually be looking to dump players and salaries to other teams with playoff hopes.
The only other option would be to ask billionaire owner Stephen A. Cohen to fix the Mets’ problems with a trade. That could add to the already record $377 million 40-player roster and estimated $105 player budget. Luxury tax fines are several million yen.
On Friday, the Mets made a modest move that didn’t fit well in either direction, trading veteran third baseman Eduardo Escobar to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for two potential pitchers.
Escobar, who was seen as a key player heading into last season, struggled this year, losing minutes to rookie Batty. However, in an effort to restore better pitching prospects to his contract, the Mets agreed to pay most of the remainder of Escobar’s $9.5 million salary. But the deal doesn’t immediately improve a pitching staff that entered Monday with the sixth-worst ERA of 4.65 in MLB.
Scherzer, 38, and Verlander, 40, both multiple-time Cy Young winners, have alternated between injuries and poor pitching. Rookie Kodai Senga performed better (3.52 ERA), but pitched only once a week in his first season out of Japan. The rest of the rotation — Carlos Carrasco, Tyler Megil and David Peterson — have struggled.
The starting rotation problem was exacerbated by a bullpen that had a season full of holes, including an injury to star closer Edwin Diaz. Showalter’s use of the bullpen didn’t help either. He didn’t use the Mets’ healthiest reliever, David Robertson, in the eighth inning when the game came up Sunday, and kept it in the ninth.
“You can’t pitch the same guys every night,” Showalter said Sunday, also turning down relief pitcher Adam Ottavino for a second day in a row and Brooks Larry for a third day in a row. “I can’t do that. What else can I do?”