The Mets entered their series with the Diamondbacks having lost seven of their previous eight games. Meanwhile, the Mets are 11-7 in starts made by Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard and 17-3 when the team scores four or more runs in a game.
In other words, with deGrom and Syndergaard pitching two of three games, during which the Mets scored 12 runs, sweeping the D-backs this past weekend should be what is expected from a team that entered this season hoping to make the postseason.
"That was a huge sweep," Syndergaard said after getting Sunday's win. "We'd kind of been struggling a little bit. But just as easily as we were struggling, it's that easy to turn it around."
This is true. Unfortunately, given how poorly the Mets had been playing during the previous month, winning three games in a row is a big deal, regardless of who is pitching and who they're playing.
The fact is, despite going 7-16 at one point, the Mets have now won five of their last seven games, they're 23-19 and just 3.5 games out of first place (2.0 games in the loss column). Also, only two teams in the National League have lost fewer games than the Mets, who are just one game back of the final Wild Card spot.
So, is this fools gold? Or, is this the start of better baseball and a new fight for the postseason? To be honest, I'm not sold in either direction. I'm keeping an open mind, while remaining cautiously optimistic (as usual). It's only mid May, yet this team has already whipped me around in 10 different directions. They're just 42 games in to the season and I'm already dizzy and don't know what to believe...
What I do know is that, to sustain this recent success and go on another much-needed, extended winning streak, the other three slots in Mickey Callaway's rotation need to be more productive...
This past Friday, deGrom tossed seven brilliant innings, struck out 13 and allowed one run. Two days later, Syndergaard also gave up one run in seven innings.
Wedged in between the team's two aces, Steven Matz was lit up for four runs in four innings, during which he threw 80 pitches and struck out just two of the 18 batters he faced.
Meanwhile, Jason Vargas has allowed four or more runs in each of his four starts this season, during which he has yet to pitch beyond the fifth inning. And, while Zack Wheeler has looked terrific in three outings this season, he has struggled in the other four, two of which he was torched for a combined 14 runs in 10 laborious innings.
The easy answer would be to replace two of Wheeler, Matz and Vargas with Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, who have been working their tails off in the bullpen this season.
The two starters-turned-relievers are each on pace to throw more than 100 innings this season, both of which would be the most by any relief pitcher during the last three years.
Paul Sewald is not far behind, by the way, as he's on pace to throw 95 innings.
Gsellman is not concerned about the workload, though, he recently told the Bergen Record.
"When I'm available I want to be used, I enjoy pitching and playing with this team and whenever they want me, throw me out there," he said.
According to Callaway, this has been the team's plan since Spring Training.
"That's the reason we have them in the bullpen," he explained. "If they throw 90 innings, I wouldn't be surprised. That's just what we set out to do when we put them in the pen."
It's a good plan, so long as 3/5 of the rotation is doing its job. Unfortunately, 3/5 of the rotation is not doing its job. And, what's the point in having Gsellman and Lugo doing great work in the bullpen if they're going to be tired out by August?
In other words, if the Mets pull Gsellman and/or Lugo from the bullpen to help the rotation, it will weaken the bullpen. However, if the Mets leave Gsellman and/or Lugo in the bullpen, the rotation remains as is and the bullpen keeps getting taxed.
The answer is to acquire one or two more relievers equally as effective as Gsellman and Lugo, or acquire one or two more stable, reliable starting pitchers to replace Matz, Wheeler or Vargas.
This is easier said than done. Sadly, the trade market doesn't typically offer up pitching until July. At the same time, most talent called up from Triple-A this and last season hasn't proven worthy of more than just a spot start.
It's not going to be an easy maneuver.
However, unless Gsellman and Lugo are unicorns reinventing how a pitching staff is used, GM Sandy Alderson needs to make a choice. Because it's going to be very difficult to string together several wins in a row if the Mets don't soon plug one or both of these holes.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!