Three Strikes: After 20 Games, Concerns for the New York Mets

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | We knew it wasn't going to be easy for the New York Mets in 2013. But when they rally like they did on Wednesday night to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers -- with David Wright's game-tying single in the ninth and Jordany Valdespin's walk-off grand slam in the 10th -- it gives you hope. Maybe not 1986 hope, but hope nonetheless.

But there are problems. The Mets enter a crucial stretch here with three games at home against the Philadelphia Phillies (2-1 against the Mets this year), three games in Miami against the Marlins (1-2 against the Mets this year), and three games at the Atlanta Braves, who sit atop the National League East.

At 10-10 and coming off a tough loss to the Dodgers yesterday, here are three concerns for the Mets as we approach the end of the first month of the season:

1. Ike Davis' Slump: No one is struggling more than Davis, who after an awful first two months last year, has gotten off to a bad start in 2013. Though he hit a home run yesterday, Davis is batting .174 with only 12 hits on the season. For a guy who is supposed to be a major threat in the middle of the order, Davis has been a huge disappointment. With only four home runs and seven runs batted in, Davis was moved to sixth in the order yesterday, and it won't be too long before you start to hear the same talk we heard last year -- that maybe Davis needs to work out his problems in the minors. The fact of the matter is that the Mets offense isn't very good to begin with. They need Ike Davis to hit.

2. Troubling Trends: A few weeks back, the Mets offered some hope that they were going to be able to reverse one of 2012's most disturbing trends. After going 20-22 last season in one-run games, the Mets are 1-4 this year. As a team, the Mets are batting .298 with runners in scoring position. But with runners in scoring position and two outs, that number drops to .213. Searching for the big hit, the Mets tend to leave runners on base.

More troubling signs: If you haven't noticed, Marlon Byrd's average has fallen to .246, Collin Cowgill is hitting .182, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been sent to the minors after striking out eight times in 16 at-bats. Remember, the outfield was a major concern heading into the season.

3. Rotation Questions: Matt Harvey has been great. He's 4-0 with a 1.54 earned run average. In games that he's started, the Mets are 5-0. In all other games, they're 5-10. Take away starts by Jonathon Niese and Harvey, that record falls to 3-9.

Yesterday, the Mets got a quality start from Jeremy Hefner. Dillon Gee's last start offered hope. And Shaun Marcum will make his season debut tomorrow. Niese left Tuesday's game in the third inning after getting struck in the right ankle, but he is expected to pitch on Sunday.

With holes in the lineup, we knew from day one that a lot would fall on the starting pitching. As great as Harvey's been, and as confident as you feel when Niese takes the mound, the Mets still need to figure things out elsewhere.

Charles Costello has followed the Mets closely since the rookie years of Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the Mets during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

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