The New York Mets did not start off 2016 in the most glamorous fashion. Matt Harvey is starting off the year on the wrong foot, Jacob deGrom has been on paternal leave, and the offense hadn’t been producing on levels Mets fans had hoped for at the start of the year.
With that said, the Mets now find themselves winners of five of their last six and seem to have started righting the ship in mid-April.
Logan Verrett has proven to be invaluable on the mound during this adjustment process. Verrett did not start the season off on the Mets initial five-man super rotation. However, he got the spot after Jacob deGrom went on emergency leave due to the health of his newborn son. Verrett turned in his second straight six innings of shutout baseball on Tuesday against the Phils. Verrett is now 2-0, hurling 12 scoreless innings in two starts this year, striking out 10 batters and walking just three.
While Verrett’s success has been great to see for Mets fans, perhaps the even better news is that Jacob deGrom’s son is out of the hospital in healthy condition. DeGrom threw a simulated game Tuesday, and manager Terry Collins liked what he saw, so deGrom will be making his second start of the season in Atlanta this weekend. DeGrom’s first outing was a win against the Phillies in which he went six innings and allowed just one run, striking out six. Verrett seemed content with his moving back to the bullpen, claiming he’s happy so long as the team is winning.
The Mets offense has also given Mets fans more reasons to be excited coming into this week. They exploded for their largest run total of 2016, pounding across 11 runs on Tuesday against Philadelphia. Five of those runs came off of Vince Velazquez, who was coming off what could be the most dominating outing of 2016, where he fanned 16 Padres and walked none in a complete game shutout.
The Mets have shown a particular affinity for the long ball, driving 17 home runs over their last five games. Neil Walker has been the Mets’ biggest slugger of 2016, belting six bombs through 13 games thus far. Walker came into the year as a respectable switch-hitter, but a guy who found most of his power from the left-handed batter’s box. With his two homers from the right side of the plate on Tuesday, Walker now matches a career high in right handed homers in a season with three. To put this power spike into perspective: Walker has three home runs in his last 11 plate appearances from the right side of the plate. It took him 640 plate appearances over the previous five years to reach that same number. So, whatever New York is feeding Walker, get him some more of that stuff.
Some other bats are waking up for the Mets as well. Curtis Granderson hit his first two homers of the year during this five-game stretch, as well as his first triple. Captain David Wright had two dingers on Monday’s series opener against the Phils, and Yoenis Cespedes, who was anticipated as the Mets biggest bat coming into the year, has hit three homers over these last five games.
The Mets and manager Terry Collins attribute this in part to a more consistent playing schedule over the past few weeks. During the initial five days of the year, the Mets played only two games. Baseball players are creatures of habit and routines. When that routine is thrown off by inconsistency in the schedules, the entire rhythm of the team can be thrown off.
The Mets seem to have found their rhythm, however, and look to complete their song about a sweep in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Bartolo Colon will square off against Jeremy Hellickson as the Mets look to get out the brooms for the first time in 2016. The Mets go on to play the Braves in Atlanta over the weekend. Jacob deGrom is slated to make his second start of the year on Sunday.