Optimism in Spring Training 2018
As Spring Training quickly approached, there was so much optimism surrounding the 2018 Mets team. The Mets had Mickey Callaway in his first season as manager, they signed key free-agents in Jason Vargas, Todd Frazier, and Anthony Swarzak, and everyone was back healthy. However, the “new” Mets went back to the “old” Mets fairly quickly. The injury bug came back quick and struck Swarzak, Vargas, and slugger Yoenis Cespedes. They went into Opening Day down their best hitter, and two huge pitching pieces to an already fragile staff. Despite these injuries, the Mets went into the beginning of the season with a solid lineup, solid staff, and a solid bullpen. With an impressive Opening Day win, the Mets 2018 season was underway.
“We May NEVER Lose Again”
You may not have realized it with the way the season ended, but the 2018 Mets started the year 11-1! They had the best record in baseball at the beginning of the year and looked like the Mets team every fan had been hoping for all these years. Clutch hits kept coming up and down the lineup, Todd Fraizer rallied the team with the “salt-and-pepper shaker” and the East was in their control. Fans were pumped and excited when they realized that the team they had was something special. Sadly, when the month of June hit, everything turned for the worst.
The Month of June
To simply put it, the month of June was awful for the Mets. A month that only saw five wins, three of which were back-to-back-to-back. They saw 21 losses, and two losing streaks of seven each. Everything that could have gone wrong for the Mets did go wrong. They weren’t capitalizing on key offensive opportunities, their starting pitching was struggling, and their bullpen was unreliable. As they sat one game under .500, and still very much in the playoff race, they hit rock-bottom in June. They started June at 27-28 and finished at 32-48. Their hopes of getting back to the playoffs were not looking good.
All-Star Break and Trade Deadline
Going into the All-Star break, the Mets were 39-55. The struggles continued, however, things were slightly better than before. Jacob deGrom was their sole representative at the All-Star Game. He pitched one inning, allowed one run on one hit, and struck out one. He was the first pitcher out of the bullpen for the National League behind Nationals ace Max Scherzer. deGrom looked to continue his dominance into the second half, and get the Mets into some sort of groove.
As the Trade Deadline neared, the Mets knew where they stood. They could have gone all-in on 2018 and hope for the best, or they could do a “mini-rebuild” to prepare for contention in 2019. They chose the “mini-rebuild” by selling off future free-agents like Jeurys Familia at the non-waiver deadline. At the waiver deadline, the Mets traded off Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Bautista.
The Final Stretch of the Season
As the Mets stumbled their way to the finish line, there was one bright spot in the month of September. David Wright was finally going to return to a Major League Baseball field. He announced that September 29th would be his final game, and he would be available to pinch-hit on the 28th. Though the Mets were not in the playoff race anymore, fans were ecstatic to see their Captain back in action. They won 1-0 against the Marlins in Wright’s final game and ended the 2018 season the next day with another win. They finished the 2018 season with a record of 77-85. This was a seven-game improvement from how they finished the 2017 season; which was just a disaster.
Other “Signs of Hope” in 2018 Mets Team
Besides Jacob deGrom having one of the best seasons a Mets pitcher has ever had, there were three Mets that made a mark on the 2018 season. The first was Steven Matz. After fighting off injuries, Matz returned to the mound to show he is the lefty they can count on. Just when the Mets were about to give up on Steven Matz, he emerged as a strong number three starter behind deGrom and Thor.
The second Met was outfielder Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo became known as “the happiest man in baseball” after his breakout 2018 season. He began to hit for power and average, played great defense, always played with hustle, and never had a frown on his face. He earned his starting spot on Opening Day and clearly deserves that spot again next season.
The third and final Met was rookie Jeff McNeil. McNeil came up late in the season and absolutely raked. McNeil was a tough out to get and filled their much-dreaded hole at second base. 2019 looks to have McNeil and Rosario up the middle. They are a young, athletic, and powerful duo that can be one of the best in baseball.
Overall Summary of the 2018 New York Mets
How would you grade the 2018 New York Mets? With a scary injury to Yoenis Cespedes (that will put him out until at least the 2019 All-Star break), a breakout campaign from Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil, and complete dominance from Jacob deGrom, the 2018 Mets earn a C. Were the Mets hot-contenders going into the year, no, but the Mets were expected to post a winning record, and fight for a Wild Card spot all season long. However, even with all the bads, there were some goods. The Mets built a lot of optimism going into 2019 with young talent, and a new GM. Fans saw their Captain and hero David Wright back on the field and saw a Cy Young season in Jacob deGrom. Though it was not the season the Mets and their fans expected, they built up a lot of optimism going into next year.
LET’S GO METS!!!!!
Photo Credit to Mark Whitt via Flickr