After taking two of three games from the Rockies in Colorado, the Mets were surely feeling good about their standing. They were four games over .500 and about to take on the lowly Houston Astros, then 8-14, in Houston.
Three days later, the Mets found themselves heading home to Citi Field three games lower in the standings.
As the series unfolded, the Mets began to look less competitive and more like the team so many experts predicted to finish last in the NL East. While the Astros have a very talented, young team, this series served to reveal more of the Mets' holes than the Astros' merits.
One of the Mets' strengths throughout the first month of the season was their hitting. They hit .268 as a team in April, which was the second-highest mark in the National League - only the St. Louis Cardinals had a higher team batting average. In this series, however, the Mets only managed to score seven runs in total, scoring only 25% of their base runners.
On the other hand, the Astros managed to drive in a gaudy 43% of their base runners this series. Though the Houston offense deserves some credit for their early-season success, this speaks more to the failure of the Mets' pitching staff.
In fairness, the Mets have been dealing with trying to fill the hole left by Mike Pelfrey, who had Tommy John surgery on his injured right elbow on Tuesday. While Pelfrey is certainly not an ace, his replacement, Chris Schwinden has shown that he is not nearly ready to be pitching in the major leagues. Schwinden has only been able to pitch through eight innings in his two major league starts this season, giving up ten earned runs.
Not only has Schwinden put the Mets' offense in a hole to start these games, but he has also put a strain on the rest of the pitching staff, especially the bullpen. This bullpen, which has quite a few new faces this season from free agency, has not performed any better than it did last year. Its 4.91 ERA this year is second to last in the National League.
Unfortunately for the Mets, there does not seem to be a more attractive option than Chris Schwinden for the fifth spot in their rotation right now. The Mets are not in a position to go out and acquire a starting pitcher from another team, so they will probably have to settle for what they have. The other stop-gap arms the Mets have on the roster right now are 41-year-old Miguel Batista, who got rocked in his only start of the season for six earned runs in three and two thirds, and 26-year-old Jeremy Heffner, who has never started a major league game in his career. It's not hard to see why the Mets have gone with Schwinden the last two times through the rotation.
There are several promising young arms in the Mets' farm system such as Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler and Jenrry Mejia, but none of these pitchers are close to being ready for Major League action. Additionally, the Mets have said that they will be patient and cautious in promoting these young pitchers, so none of them should be expected to be up on the big league team until September at the soonest.
The Mets will send Dillon Gee to the mound tonight at Citi Field against left-handed pitcher Wade Miley and the Arizona Diamondbacks. First pitch will be at 7:10 PM Eastern.