Though the Mets have been slipping in the standings for most of the second half, what’s felt inevitable for quite some time became official on Saturday, as they were eliminated from postseason contention.
Mathematically, the Mets were eliminated before they even took the field on Saturday against the Brewers, thanks to a Phillies win over the Pirates. After the 2-1 loss in Milwaukee, manager Luis Rojas and outfielder Michael Conforto spoke about the disappointment of a season that once had so much potential.
“It’s always going to be highly disappointing when you don’t achieve the goal, as we expected at the beginning of spring training and the season to be fighting, to be a contender, to be a team that was going to be in the playoffs,” Rojas said when asked about the overall feeling of not making the playoffs. “It is disappointing, and I’m sure the guys feel the same way right now.
“We battled through a lot of things during the season, and I don’t think we can just start talking about different things that got in the way for not accomplishing this. We are disappointed. Second half, we didn’t play good enough baseball and it led to this. We were playing good baseball, we were getting good results for a good period of time, but we didn’t carry it over to the second half and that leads us to this.”
The Mets held first place in the NL East for nearly three months, but things collapsed after the All-Star break. They dealt with a litany of injuries all season long, including to ace Jacob deGrom, who was in the midst of a historically great season before elbow issues derailed him.
Combine that with offensive struggles, and the pitching just couldn’t keep the team afloat.
“Our offense was a little down and I thought our pitching was always pitching in very stressful situations with a one-run lead or one-run deficit or a two-run lead or a two-run deficit. So, it was always a lot of stressful innings for them,” Rojas said. “And our low hitting, especially more so with runners in scoring position, all of those things played a role into a lot of stressful innings, I think, and it’s just not sustainable. Second half, we played erratic, we made errors, not like we did in the first half, and the pitching wasn’t the same.
“We had a lot of stressful innings. … I think we had more than any other team in baseball. Pitchers, you’ve got to be perfect, and that’s pure stress. You’ve got to be perfect. … They had a lot of innings like that. Our bullpen was well used because of that. You can add to it not having Jake, that also played a role into not having a Jake start where he could go seven not allowing a run and shutting down the opposing offense and probably giving a blow to the bullpen, and different things, different factors that come into play when a pitcher like Jacob deGrom pitches every five days.”
Like Rojas, Conforto put must of the blame on the offense as a whole.
“I think it’s pretty clear we didn’t swing the bats well enough. That’s obviously a big part of it,” Conforto said. “Losing guys to injuries, that doesn’t help either. Losing Jake was a big part of that. We had expectations of Noah (Syndergaard) coming back a little sooner than hopefully we do get to see him, but a bunch of different things.
“There’s no excuse. You can blame it on injuries, but we had guys stepping up all year. (Marcus Stroman) stepped up in a big way for us. On the pitching side, we had guys come in. (Tylor) Megill with a great start to his major league career. Rich (Hill) came over and did a great job for us, and I think at the end of the day we just didn’t swing the bats well enough. Generally, we pitched pretty well and played pretty good defense.”