5 things to watch as Mets face Tigers in three-game series at Citi Field

Here are five things to watch as the Mets and Detroit Tigers play a three-game series at Citi Field...

Starting rotation stabilization needed

No one thought the Mets' rotation was going to be elite, but solid if unspectacular performance was a reasonable expectation. So far, it hasn't happened.

Jose Quintana lasted just 4.2 innings on Opening Day, allowing eight base runners in the process.

Luis Severino had a tough start on Saturday, allowing a career-high 12 hits in 5.0 innings while surrendering six runs.

Tylor Megill was in trouble for most of his start on Sunday and limited the damage (allowing two runs), but pitched only 4.0 innings.

For the Mets to contend, they're going to need the rotation to stabilize and at the very least provide average production. They'll hope that starts on Monday night when Sean Manaea takes the ball.

The early-season sloppiness

During their season-opening sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Mets did not play a crisp brand of baseball.

On Saturday alone, the Mets made four miscues in the field -- two physical and two mental.

-Third baseman Zack Short mishandled a would-be ground out at third base

-Brandon Nimmo threw to third base on a base hit instead of throwing to second, allowing the back runner to advance

-Harrison Bader didn't look up at where a ball he hit off the left field wall wound up, and was thrown out at second base by a mile

-Shortstop Francisco Lindor air-mailed what should've been a routine 6-3

On Sunday, the sloppiness continued, with Brett Baty muffing a soft liner at third base that should've ended the first inning but resulted in a generously-scored RBI single instead.

The Mets are going to have to play a much more fundamentally sound brand of baseball going forward.

Francisco Alvarez's blazing start

One of the bright spots in the early going has been Alvarez, who launched his first homer of the season on Saturday and has five hits in his first 10 at-bats.

After homering on Saturday, Alvarez ripped a double down the left field line on Sunday as part of a day where he went 2-for-3 with a walk.

He served as the designated hitter on Sunday in order for him to get a break from being behind the plate, but the Mets won't have that option much once J.D. Martinez is ready.

Alvarez hit sixth in the lineup on Sunday, and is making an early case that he should continue to rise in the order.

Brandon Nimmo, Francisco Lindor, and Jeff McNeil's early ruts

As Alvarez, Pete Alonso, and Starling Marte have excelled, three of the Mets' other most important hitters have provided close to zero offense at the top of the lineup.

Nimmo, Lindor, and McNeil are a combined 3-for-36 over the first three games of the season, which is a big reason why New York mustered only one run on Friday and one run on Sunday.

Their offensive eruption on Saturday (six runs) was due mainly to homers from Alvarez and Alonso, and a three-run, pinch-hit blast off the bat of Brett Baty.

Nimmo, Lindor, and McNeil are too good to continue hitting like this for much longer.

The Tarik Skubal show

Skubal has pitched in relative obscurity over the first four years of his big league career, but with the Tigers expected to be a factor in the AL Central this season and Skubal coming off a year where he had a 2.80 ERA and 0.89 WHIP while striking out 11.4 per nine, the 27-year-old lefty is getting noticed.

In his first start of the season, Skubal -- a trendy pick for the American League Cy Young award this year -- fired 6.0 shutout innings while allowing three hits, walking none, and striking out six.

Skubal relies mainly on his fastball (which averaged close to 97 mph in his first start) and changeup, but also mixes in a slider and -- occasionally -- a curve.

The fastball, which ranked in the 92nd percentile in baseball last season, is elite, as is Skubal's command and ability to miss bats.