The Mets finished the month of May with a 19-9 record, giving them a 34-18 record overall. The Mets have the best record in the National League and the second-best overall mark in the Majors. Here’s a review of how the team did in the month.
What Went Right:Oliver Perez continued his hot start from April. He went 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA. Perez continued to do a good job of throwing strikes, as he allowed just 11 walks in 40.1 innings. And with 35 strikeouts in the month, he had a better than 3:1 strikeout:walk ratio. The only mark against Perez is that he gave up seven home runs, including three in his last start, a no-decision versus the Giants.
Jorge Sosa replaced Mike Pelfrey as the team’s fifth starter and he matched Perez with a 4-1 record. The big reason for Sosa’s success was his ability to limit the gopher ball. He allowed just three home runs in 29.2 innings. By comparison, last year in 118 innings, he gave up a whopping 30 homers.
Carlos Delgado, Paul Lo Duca and David Wright, three hitters who struggled in April, came alive with the bats in May. Delgado hit .273 for the month but in his last seven games, he batted .375 with four homers, which led to an .875 slugging percentage. Lo Duca led the Mets with a .393 average and a .441 on-base percentage for the month. Wright’s 8 home runs and his .596 slugging mark topped the Mets for May.
Endy Chavez and Damion Easley stepped into starting roles for the injured Moises Alou and Jose Valentin and both held their own. Chavez hit .312 in the month and played his usual sterling defense. Easley showed he still had some life left in his bat. He hit .265 while playing nearly every day and he delivered five homers in May.
Billy Wagner appeared in 13 games and recorded nine saves. He has been simply overpowering, with 19 strikeouts and three walks in 13 innings.
Orlando Hernandez came back from a month on the disabled list to throw two excellent starts. In his first game back, he allowed just two hits and no runs in six innings while in his second outing, Hernandez went seven innings and gave up just two runs.
What’s Gone Wrong: The Mets continued to struggle versus the Braves. They went 1-2 versus Atlanta in May, dropping their record for the year versus their rivals to 3-6. Against the rest of baseball, the Mets are 31-12 for an amazing .721 winning percentage
Injuries have been a nuisance. In addition to Alou, Hernandez and Valentin, the Mets lost the surprisingly effective Shawn Green to a broken foot. In the last game of the month, Carlos Beltran left early due to a leg injury from a collision at first base.
Beltran and Jose Reyes cooled off after hot starts. Beltran hit just .234 but still maintained an above-average on-base percentage of .368, thanks to 21 walks. Reyes hit .268 and posted just a .348 slugging mark. Both players hit over .350 in April.
Unlike last month, nearly everything went right for the Mets in May. The record versus the Braves is mostly a psychological thing, the injuries have not taken a toll on the lineup and Beltran and Reyes, while unquestionably worse than in April, were hardly horrible. They scored six or more runs 10 times in the month and went 10-0 in those games. They took series versus the Brewers (2-1) and Arizona (3-1) two of the top teams in the National League and they also won two out of three from the Yankees in Interleague play.
Now, I’d like to update a column I wrote on the Mets in the end of March, in which I made five predictions for the club. Let’s see how those have fared after two months worth of games.
1. The back end of the rotation will not be a problem. I already detailed how well Oliver Perez pitched in May. But Maine had a couple of rough outings in the month. However, he still went 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA. Pelfrey earned a trip to Triple-A but Sosa more than held his own as the club’s fifth starter. The team’s 3-4-5 starters are pitching up to my expectations.
2. No pitcher as bad as Jose Lima will start a game in 2007. Sosa replaced Pelfrey in the rotation and was an immediate upgrade. Jason Vargas made one start and was strong for five innings before giving up four runs in the sixth. Starting pitching has been a strength all season long for the Mets.
3. The team will not duplicate last year’s one-run record. The Mets were 5-1 in one-run games in May and 8-3 overall for the season, putting them slightly ahead of last year’s pace. In 2006, they were 31-16 in one-run games.
4. Carlos Delgado will enjoy a better season than his first one in Flushing. After a slow start, Delgado really turned things around, especially the final week in May. But with a .231 batting average for the season, Delgado still has some work to do.
5. Paul Lo Duca will be dropped from the second spot in the lineup. Randolph dropped Lo Duca to the seventh slot in the order in the first game of May and he has not been in the second spot since.
So, the Mets are off to a great start and my predictions look pretty good after two months. I’ll check back again in the beginning of July.