For the first time in 15 years, the New York Mets clinched the National League pennant and advanced to the World Series in 2015, only to suffer a five-game loss to the Kansas City Royals. Despite the lackluster finish, the Mets had a fantastic season that year, boasting a star-studded roster featuring the illustrious likes of Jacob deGrom, Curtis Granderson, Matt Harvey, Lucas Duda and Noah Syndergaard. Although they were unsuccessful in taking home the title, they appeared to have a promising future ahead of them, especially if the nucleus of the team managed to stay healthy.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill for them from there, and they have yet to recover. So, what exactly went wrong?
First and foremost, the biggest issue that plagued the Mets one year removed from their close call in the World Series was the plethora of injures. Their strengths with pitching and offense weren't enough to make up for those they lost, resulting in an overall record of 87-75 and second place in the NL East. That isn't too shabby considering the circumstances, but their record of 70-92 from 2017 was nothing short of abysmal (largely thanks to Harvey, Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler all having to miss time).
Coming off a disappointing 2017 season that saw the team sit seven games below .500 by the summer, the Mets were then expected to bounce back the following year when Duda was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. They also eventually added standout AJ Ramos from the Marlins to their ranks and brought up their No. 1 prospect shortstop Amed Rosario.
The 2018 season have promise on paper but turned out to be a total disaster. They started out strong with an 11-1 record, but between batting out of order for a game against the Reds, trading away Harvey (who was once a mega star for them), and general manager Sandy Alderson taking a leave of absence to undergo cancer treatment, nothing seemed to be going their way.
The Mets' less-than-stellar win-loss records in recent years haven't been a terribly encouraging sign that they'd be back on the right track any time soon. Interestingly enough, they finished out the second half of the 2018 season with a .559 winning percentage, which was marginally better than the NL East division winners the Atlanta Braves' (.556), per Dylan Smith of Call to the Pen.
With many changes being made to the roster over the course of the winter and a number of notable All-Stars being brought in, Mets fans entered 2019 hopeful that the team could finally break their three-year streak of falling below .500 and return to their 2015 glory.
It wasn't long until a handful of players got hurt and hindered any momentum the team may have had. The injured include Yoenis Cespedes, Luis Avilan, Jed Lowrie, Steven Matz, Jason Vargas, Drew Smith, and Jeurys Familia.
Collectively, that's a big blow to the Mets' roster, but that still leaves deGrom, Syndergaard, and Wheeler, who can serve as the backbone of the team for the remainder of the season. Health is of the utmost importance, and so far, the 2019 season hasn't been greatest for Mets fans in that regard. They can try to make the most of who they have, however, assuming they can hold on to them through the end of the year.
For as valuable of an asset as Syndergaard has been to the Mets, one has to wonder whether he's too good for the team. He is early on in his career and can try to get the Mets back to the heights they haven't reached since 2015, but he could also be better off signing with the Yankees if he feels he's hit a ceiling with the Mets.
Yahoo! Sports reported that the Yankees are eyeing Syndergaard as a possible trade target this summer. That'd be huge void for the Mets to fill if they were to lose him, so in addition to their players staying healthy, the powers that be must ensure that they keep Syndergaard (and all of their other elite athletes) under contract so this rebuilding phase for the Mets can continue.
Despite arguably being the ace of the Mets, Syndergaard doesn't come close to leading the list of Mets' highest paid players. The top spot is occupied by veteran second baseman Robinson Cano. He got hit on the back of his left hand last month but thankfully missed only two games. Although he's a proven commodity and has done well with the Mets this year, the real key to success for the team will be Cespedes' return to the field.
Cespedes is one of the few players who helped the Mets get to the World Series in 2015 in the first place. His absence from the team due to injuries has undoubtedly been felt, as he hasn't been around full-time since the 2016 season. The Mets have suffered significantly as a result, so a speedy recovery for La Potencia is all fans can hope for.
Attendance at Citi Field for the Mets is down roughly seven thousand people on average since 2016, a stat that presumably has to do with the team's recent slump. But with the right pieces in place, a rock solid defense and a healthy roster, 2020 just might be the year the Mets become amazing again.