Mets suffering an early identity crisis

Who are these guys? The first-place Mets? The .500 Mets? The fundamentals- and timeliness-challenged Mets? As they return home following their first trip out of the Eastern time zone since 2019,

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Who are these guys?

The first-place Mets? The .500 Mets? The fundamentals- and timeliness-challenged Mets?

As they return home following their first trip out of the Eastern time zone since 2019, Steve Cohen’s Mets find themselves in search of an identity as well as some wins.

“I just want us to build that consistency as a team so that we can play our best baseball,” Luis Rojas said late Thursday night, after his club suffered its third straight loss, 4-3 in 10 innings to the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

At 7-7, good enough to be tied with the Phillies (9-9) for first place in the National League East, the Mets had best be far from their best baseball if they want Cohen’s inaugural journey to be a memorable success.

With the least games played in the industry thanks to the Nationals’ opening-week COVID outbreak and three weather postponements/suspensions, the Mets can describe their early identity thusly: In Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman, they might possess as stellar a 1-2 starting-pitching combination as any club in baseball. And then they must cope with plenty of questions and concerns about the rest of the operation.

The Mets under Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson prided themselves on an initial offseason that strengthened their roster. So far, such a bolstering has paid off only minimally.

Cubs teammates mob Jason Heyward (left) after his game-winning single in the 10th inning of the Mets’ 4-3 loss.
AP

After tying this game on J.D. Davis’ pinch-hit, seventh-inning double against Ryan Tepera, Davis’ not starting generating some headlines because of how poorly he has manned third base, the Mets couldn’t plate any more runs, emblematic of their young season. Not even when their placed base-runner Kevin Pillar advanced to third base with no outs in the 10th, pinch-hitter Jeff McNeil chasing several pitches out of the zone to strike out, nor when they loaded the bases with one out, Dominic Smith grounding into a double play.

When Pete Alonso slipped while fielding David Bote’s bunt in the bottom of the 10th, preventing him from getting the lead runner at third base (he got the out at first instead), it set in motion Jason Heyward’s walk-off single against Edwin Diaz, undoing six shutout innings by the Mets’ bullpen — three of those by Sean Reid-Foley in his Mets debut, a very encouraging performance — and giving the mediocre Cubs a sweep.

“Getting swept feels like eating a s— sandwich,” Alonso said.

Their offense has significantly underachieved — they went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position Thursday and are 21-for-113 (.186) for the season — and their defense has realized at least some of its greatest fears. Their rotation hasn’t proven reliable outside of their top pair and the bullpen has been inconsistent.

“I feel like it’s not our lack of effort,” Alonso said. “We’re grinding. … I would think that this group is a resilient group, and I know there’s a lot of talent on our squad. There’ve been glimmers of greatness, and I feel like as the season rolls on, we’re going to capture more of those moments collectively as a whole.”

“We’ve always got to expect [their best baseball] to happen the next day,” Rojas said. “Got to pack up our stuff here, get on the plane, have that mentality and give it our all [Friday].”

The flailing Nats come to Flushing, the rivals’ first meeting after the aborted opening set in Washington, and perhaps a mix of an undermanned opponent and hometown cooking will get the Mets going and showing their true selves.

For if what they’re displaying now constitutes the Mets’ best selves, it’s gonna be a long rookie season for their owner.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Ken Davidoff

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