After snapping a seven-game losing streak on Saturday, the Mets couldn’t remain in the win column today, dropping a 2-1 result to the Pirates. The loss dropped New York’s record to 31-35, putting them in fourth place in the NL East and 9.5 games behind the first-place Braves. The crowded NL standings mean that the Mets are only 3.5 games back of a wild card berth, yet obviously the Mets didn’t expect to find themselves in such a middling position after winning 101 games in 2022 and then augmenting their roster with a blockbuster offseason.
Since owner Steve Cohen has been so aggressive in his spending to make the Mets into a World Series contender, there has been a lot of speculation over whether or not Cohen’s desire to win could now manifest itself in managerial or front office changes in response to the Mets’ slow start. However, as Cohen indicated to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, such changes don’t appear to be in the works, nor is he planning to “blow up” just to express public frustration.
“The reality is it’s not going to solve our problems,” Cohen said. “And I think in some ways it can be demotivating….I think that’s the worst thing you can do is to be overly reactionary. General fan reaction, it’s usually, ’I can’t believe Steve’s not going nuts, fire somebody.’ My answer to that is, ’OK, let’s say I went nuts. Let’s say I fired somebody. Then what?’ What does that accomplish? Who are you gonna replace them with? This is the middle of the season. And then if you actually ask people [who are the replacements], they have no answers, other than they’re just angry, and I get that. I’m frustrated too.”
While this isn’t exactly a clear vote of confidence in GM Billy Eppler or manager Buck Showalter, Cohen stated that he isn’t letting “recency bias” dictate his decisions, saying “You’re better off trying to manage through these periods and not throw your entire plans out the window. It’s just not good management, good strategy.” In one of multiple references Cohen made between the Mets and his hedge fund business, Cohen noted that “there are moments where we’ve drawn down really hard for whatever reasons — whether it’s markets, whether it’s something that we did wrong — it doesn’t mean I completely change or let people go. I don’t operate that way. These are challenges. This is management. This is the moment where you get to witness how your management deals with problems.”
Cohen made it clear that he isn’t pleased with the season to date, pointing to both a lack of results from the rotation as well as “mental errors” from the team at large. But, “those are what I would call unforced errors that we can fix and we will because these are good guys who are working hard,” Cohen said, and he feels his pitching staff has too much talent to continue struggling.
“What is the odds this group of pitchers will pitch this way the entire season. Probably unlikely,” Cohen said. “That is why there is reason for optimism in a moment where it looks like the wheels have just come off….These are people who have performed in the past, and you’ve got to believe that it’s fixable. I keep coming back to that: The best indicator of future performance is how they performed in the past. And they have performed consistently well in the past. That gives me optimism for the future.”
The Mets entered Sunday’s action ranked 25th of 30 teams in rotation ERA, as both under-performance and health issues have been pitfalls for the team’s starters. Justin Verlander and Carlos Carrasco each missed significant time on the 15-day injured list, while Max Scherzer has battled some neck soreness and also served a 10-game suspension for use of a foreign substance on his hands while pitching. Jose Quintana has yet to pitch at all this season due to a stress fracture in his ribs suffered during Spring Training, and isn’t expected back until July. Beyond this veteran group, Kodai Senga has pitched well in his first MLB season, but Tylor Megill, David Peterson, and Joey Lucchesi have all struggled.