Injury bug threw wrench into Mets' plans

New York weighs options following first half marked by frustration

Injury bug threw wrench into Mets' plans

This is not where the Mets expected to be at the All-Star break.

Entering the season, Terry Collins' club felt it belonged, at least by reputation, among the best teams in the National League. Anything less than a postseason berth was going to be a disappointment. If everything broke right, the Mets believed they could make it back to the World Series -- perhaps even win it.

Then injuries interfered, roster depth shriveled and the Mets entered mid-July in fourth place, 10 1/2 games out of an NL Wild Card berth. Though they still hope to pursue that, the Mets are growing increasingly realistic by the day, looking hard at selling off some veteran assets.

What went right
After barely making the team out of Spring Training, Michael Conforto emerged as an All-Star, hitting .284 with 14 home runs in the first half. Jacob deGrom rebounded from an uneven start to the season to post All-Star-caliber numbers as well. At times, Jay Bruce, Neil Walker, Curtis Granderson and others carried the offense, while Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins made the back end of New York's bullpen formidable. The Mets had moments of appearing capable of making the first-place Nationals at least sweat a little.

deGrom fans 12 in dominant start

What went wrong
Injuries, injuries and more injuries. The Mets lost Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, Jeurys Familia, Walker, Steven Matz and others for large swaths of the first half. David Wright never came close to playing a game. All told, the Mets placed 19 players on the disabled list, several of them multiple times. With the notable exception of deGrom, six of the Mets' top seven starting pitchers made trips to the DL.

With that backdrop behind them, the Mets watched their rotation -- the organization's bedrock for half a decade -- transform into one of the league's worst. The Mets finished the first half with a 4.88 rotation ERA, their starting pitchers averaging just 5.5 innings per night. That in turn taxed a bullpen featuring little depth even before Familia hit the DL. Overworked for much of the first half, Mets relievers finished with a 5.03 ERA, second-worst in the National League.

What we learned
The Mets' offseason plan of keeping almost the exact same team in place didn't quite work. Their veteran roster another year older, the Mets continued suffering injuries at a staggering clip, and did not have enough in-house depth to make up for it. Now, general manager Sandy Alderson will almost certainly look to sell off pieces -- Bruce, Granderson, Lucas Duda, Asdrubal Cabrera, Reed and Blevins highlight their inventory -- before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

First half top everyday player
With a nod to Conforto, the Mets' lone All-Star, Bruce has been the Mets' best player up to this point. Following an offseason in which the Mets attempted to trade him, Bruce broke out with 23 first-half homers, fourth-most in franchise history before the All-Star break. He even improved on defense, according to most advanced metrics, as part of his quest to become more athletic overall.

Bruce thrives before the break

First half top pitcher
Had his rebound started sooner, deGrom almost certainly would have joined Conforto at the All-Star Game. As it was, he went 5-0 with a 1.62 ERA over his final five starts, trimming his season mark from 4.75 to 3.65. Most importantly to the Mets, deGrom stayed healthy, leading the team with 111 innings, and ranking fifth in the NL with 130 strikeouts.

First half top rookie
Barely clinging to his rookie eligibility after appearing in 33 games down the stretch last season, T.J. Rivera continued to prove his ability to hit at every level. A career .324 hitter over seven Minor League seasons, Rivera batted .299 in the first half, earning increased playing time in June and July. He rewarded the Mets with a .333 average and .847 OPS during those months.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.