The Mets' strong starting pitching and bench depth have helped lead them into first place in the NL East, but their lead isn't bigger because of their recurring issues on offense.
The Mets arrived at the All-Star break atop the NL East for the first time since 2007, a testament to the team’s strong starting pitching and bench depth.
But opportunities to build a lead larger than the 3 ½-game edge they hold escaped them. Offensive struggles were mostly to blame — the Mets are 29th in MLB in scoring, averaging 3.76 runs per game.
Meaningful September games most likely await. A look at the midterm grades:
Jacob deGrom: A +
On track for a third Cy Young award in four years and in the MVP conversation after posting a 1.08 ERA in the first half. Durability, however, has been an issue.
Taijuan Walker: A
An offseason free-agent steal, Walker has given the Mets a top-flight No. 2 starter with a bulldog mentality. He has allowed just 63 hits in 90 innings.
Brandon Nimmo: A
The Mets have gotten just a small dose of Nimmo because of the hand injury that cost him two months, but they are clearly a better team with him atop the lineup and playing center field.
Aaron Loup: A
The Mets whiffed on Brad Hand last winter, but appear to have hit the jackpot with the left-hander Loup, who has pitched to a 1.61 ERA in 31 appearances. Quietly, a good addition for the Mets.
Marcus Stroman: A –
He has rebounded from missing an entire season better than could have been anticipated. His durability has been appreciated by the team.
Seth Lugo: B +
Lugo is still the Mets’ most dependable reliever. He was missed for the first two months as he rehabbed from elbow surgery, but has helped carry the bullpen with a 2.65 ERA in 16 appearances.
The Mets certainly expected more consistency than they have gotten from the right-hander for the two-year contract worth $15.5 million he received. May has allowed six homers in 32 ²/₃ innings.
Billy McKinney: C
For a two-week stretch after he arrived following a trade with the Brewers, he helped carry the lineup. He has been quiet lately, but gives the Mets a left-handed bat off the bench and defense.
Miguel Castro: C
The right-hander was dominant early in the season, but has gotten knocked around lately. His slump could leave the Mets looking for another bullpen arm heading to July 30.
Francisco Lindor: C –
This grade would have been much worse a month ago, but the $341 million shortstop has rebounded offensively. His defense remains elite. That said, he needs to be better.
James McCann: C –
The Mets’ other big lineup addition from the winter has struggled offensively while providing mixed results behind the plate. He has a good arm, but his pitch framing has been an issue.
Jeff McNeil: C –
Did he and Lindor ever decide if it was a rat or raccoon in the tunnel by the dugout? McNeil, like Lindor, was a first-half disappointment.
David Peterson: D
The left-hander has regressed from last season, when he helped save the rotation. He owns a 5.54 ERA and 1.40 WHIP as he rehabs from an oblique strain.
Michael Conforto: F
He has been lost at the plate all season, and the hamstring injury that cost him a month only exacerbated matters. This is no way to earn a big contract.
Luis Rojas: B +
The Mets survived losing much of their lineup to injuries in May and June and arrived at the All-Star break in first place. That’s a credit to the manager.
Zack Scott: A –
The rookie acting general manager has led the charge to improve the Mets’ defense through shifting and shown proficiency finding smaller pieces that can help the roster.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Mike Puma