The 2013 New York Mets had their moments.
Matt Harvey symbolized the best and worst of the Mets’ season.
The long 162-game journey that was the New York Mets 2013 season has finally come to an end. For the second straight year, they finished with a 74-88 record, but this time, thanks to an aging Philadelphia Phillies team, they finished in third place, not fourth, as they had every year since 2009. The Mets continued to try to straddle the line between rebuilding and putting an entertaining team on the field, but ended up with a mediocre product.
What went right
- 2013 saw the emergence of 24 year-old Matt Harvey as an elite starting pitcher. The 2010 first round draft pick had a 2.27 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 157 ERA+. He averaged 1.6 walks and 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings, as he buzzed through the National League with his high-nineties fastball, low-nineties slider, and improved changeup. He also started the All-Star game, which was held in the Mets’ home ballpark, Citi Field, and threw two scoreless innings. Everything was going so perfectly for Matt Harvey…
- Some of the other young arms the Mets had stockpiled started to show up in Queens. 27 year-old Dillon Gee, a relative veteran, had a career year, winning 12 games and posting a 3.62 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. 23 year-old Zack Wheeler, the prospect the Mets acquired from the San Francisco Giants in return for Carlos Beltran, made his debut in June. After early bouts of wildness, Wheeler tamed his mid-nineties fastball, slider, and curve, and finished the season with a 3.42 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. 23 year-old Jenrry Mejia returned from elbow surgery and posted an impressive 2.30 ERA before additional surgery to clean up bone chips cut his season short. At the minor league level, pitching prospects like Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, and Jacob deGrom all made major strides toward joining the big league roster, perhaps as soon as 2014.
- The Mets found value in an unexpected source in outfielder Marlon Byrd. The 35 year-old enjoyed a comeback season following a miserable 2012 in which he was also suspended for PED use. Byrd hit .285/.330/.518 with 21 home runs and 71 RBIs before the Mets traded him to the Pirates in August for two prospects.
What went wrong
- …Everything was going so perfectly for Matt Harvey until he complained of stiffness in his right forearm after an August start. An MRI revealed a tear in the UCL in his elbow. His season was done, and by the time the season came to an end, it was decided he needed Tommy John surgery. Harvey will likely miss the entire 2014 season, leaving the Mets without an established ace in their rotation.
- David Wright was in the midst of a terrific season when he pulled up with a hamstring injury in August. The newly minted team captain returned for a few games at the end of September, and finished the season with a slash of .307/.390/.514 with 18 homers. The loss of Wright and Harvey derailed a stretch of improved play the Mets enjoyed from mid-June until that point.
- Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada each took a major step back in 2013. Just a year ago, they were considered key members of the team’s future. For the second straight season, Davis got off to a horrendous start that ended up getting him demoted in June. At the time, Davis was hitting .161 with five home runs. When he came back to the majors, he improved at the plate, but was still devoid of power. He hit .286/.449/.505 after the All-Star break, but only hit four balls out of the park. Tejada hit .202/.259/.260 and played poor defense. He suffered a quadriceps injury, and later spent time at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Overall team performance
It was another season like the others – the ones since 2009 – a six-month slog of mediocrity that further grated on an already bruised fan base.
The Mets started out brutally, looking like they may finally break their trend of win totals in the mid-seventies, and end up with a win total in the sixties. But a steady infusion of young pitching led to a minor surge in the middle of the season, only to be undermined by key injuries.
That young pitching gave Mets fans something to be hopeful for, but the offense was dreadful most of the year. They scored a paltry 619 runs, their lowest total since the lockout-shortened 1994 season.
Bats, bats, bats. The blue sky scenario stated by the front office would be the acquisition of two new outfielders, a shortstop, a starting pitcher to help eat up Matt Harvey’s abandoned innings, and maybe a veteran catcher to back up prospect Travis d’Arnaud. At minimum, they would settle for a shortstop and a power bat in the outfield.
The outlook for 2014 depends entirely on how the offseason goes. They have the potential for a very good starting rotation, but given the youth of guys like Wheeler, Montero, and Syndergaard, nothing is certain.
The bullpen is also anchored by hard-throwing young arms such as Bobby Parnell and Vic Black (one of the prospects acquired for Byrd), but Parnell is coming off of neck surgery, and Black has yet to play an entire big-league season.
If the Mets can secure a solid shortstop and another bat, and the young arms come through, Mets fans may finally bear witness to the beginning of the “building” phase of the rebuilding. If not, it could be a repeat of 2013…and 2012…and 2011…