It is a new month, and I am happy note that on their current July pace, the Mets would have their best month in franchise history. In reality, though, July almost has to be better than June. The team will start off their first full series of the month against a team that just lost two in a row to the lowly Tigers (who themselves had lost 11 straight), so perhaps there is an opportunity to be had against the Blue Jays. The Josh Donaldson injury and the Jays’ pitching have been some of their biggest roadblocks, the latter of which is expanded upon below in this edition of the stats preview.
Estrada’s Struggles: Marco Estrada’s production has taken a steady downturn over the last two years. After a run of four out of five years with a WARP above 2.8, Estrada’s fell to 0.7 last year and sits at -0.6 this year. Like most pitchers on the backside of their careers, Estrada’s decline seems to have stemmed from the deterioration of his repertoire. He throws four pitches (fourseam, changeup, curve and cutter), but this season he might as well only have two. He has never thrown his cutter much (2016 was the only season he threw it more than 10% of the time), and his curveball has gone from fringy to almost unusable (3.6% whiff/swing rate is the worst among starters in 2018). That leaves the fourseamer and the changeup, the latter of which has also seen declining whiff rates (23.3% whiff rate in 2016, 18.9% in 2017, 16.7% in 2018). Add that to a fastball that averages below 90 mph and, well, there is a reason Bartolo Colon’s success with only slow fastballs is so incredible. Unsurprisingly, Mets hitters have fared well against fastballs below 90, as Todd Frazier, Brandon Nimmo, Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores have all hit .340 or better against them.
Maile’s Mitt: In a season that has seen injuries and underperformances plague the Blue Jays, Luke Maile has been a pleasant surprise. The 27-year-old catcher has been pretty average with the bat (.262 TAv), but behind the plate is where he has added his value. Maile has been the sixth most valuable framer in 2018, with 5.8 framing runs thus far. The solid defense combined with league average offensive production from the catcher position has Maile at 1.3 WARP, with BP’s system projecting him to finish with 1.5. That’s not too bad for a guy who came into the year with a negative career WARP.
The Good: Old friend Curtis Granderson has continued to show signs of life, sporting a .288 TAv with a 0.9 WARP.
The Bad: Toronto pitchers are tied for the most stolen bases allowed with 63. The team they are tied with…the Mets.
The Ugly: The pitching staff has more pitchers with negative WARP (13) than positive (9).
At 33-48, the Mets have completed exactly half their season. BP’s Playoff Odds Reports projects them for 71.7 wins and gives them just a 0.2% chance of making the playoffs (at the quarter mark of the season they were at 14.8%). Those same projections would have the Mets in line for the seventh worst record in the majors. The current pace of 66 wins would be tied for the 11th worst winning percentage in franchise history and the worst win total in a 162-game season since 1993 (in 2003, the team also won 66 games, but only played 161).
Photo credit: Troy Taormina – USA Today Sports