Injuries may have been the theme of the Mets’ 2016 season, but the team’s ability to overcome them was the takeaway, giving them optimism heading into winter.
With that in mind, here is a look back at the summer in Flushing:
Record: 87-75, second place, National League East.
Defining moment: On the morning of Aug. 20, the Mets were 60-62. They sat in fifth place in the NL Wild Card standings, 5 1/2 games out of a playoff spot, with their manager on the hot seat and more than a half-dozen of their best players injured. But Yoenis Cespedes hit two home runs that afternoon in San Francisco and another the following night, leading the Mets to the first of three consecutive victories. They wound up constructing the Majors’ best record from that day forward, passing all four teams they trailed en route to hosting the Wild Card Game at Citi Field.
Cespedes’ mammoth solo homer
NYM@SF: Cespedes launches his second homer of the day
Yoenis Cespedes cranks a long solo home run into the seats in left-center, his second blast of the day, extending the Mets’ lead to 8-2
What went right: The Mets shot out to a hot start in April, thanks in large part to second baseman Neil Walker‘s nine home runs that month. Then, when injuries and production issues struck, they were proactive in acquiring replacements: James Loney at first base, Jose Reyes at third and, eventually, Jay Bruce in the outfield. All three of those players experienced various degrees of success, helping the Mets hit a franchise-record 218 homers.
Loney’s three-run home run
NYM@ATL: Loney launches a three-run homer to right
James Loney connects and drives a three-run home run to right field to give the Mets an 8-0 lead in the top of the 5th inning
The Mets’ bullpen also ranked among the game’s best from Opening Day through the end of the season. Jeurys Familia converted a franchise-record 51 saves, the most ever by a Dominican-born pitcher. Addison Reed developed into one of the game’s top setup men and Fernando Salas, an August waiver-trade acquisition, was solid down the stretch.
Once the Mets reached that point, they took advantage of a soft schedule, beating up on the Braves, Phillies, Reds, Twins and others. They clinched a playoff berth with one day left in the regular season.
Reed works out of the 8th
WSH@NYM: Reed strikes out Ramos to work out of 8th
Addison Reed freezes Wilson Ramos on strike three to strand a pair on base and work out of the 8th inning
What went wrong: Injuries, and a lot of them. With so much focus on his ability to play through spinal stenosis, it was neck surgery that claimed third baseman David Wright in June. He went down around the same time as first baseman Lucas Duda, who lost four months to a lower-back stress fracture. And Walker suffered a season-ending back injury that knocked him out for all of September. With those three gone, the Mets were forced to play a significant number of games without three-quarters of their Opening Day infield.
Wright’s walk-off single
MIL@NYM: Wright delivers a walk-off single in the 9th
With the bases loaded, David Wright lines a single into right-center field, scoring Eric Campbell and giving the Mets a 5-4 walk-off win
Medical issues proved just as damaging to the rotation. The Mets lost Matt Harvey to thoracic outlet syndrome in July, Steven Matz to elbow and shoulder injuries in August and Jacob deGrom to an ulnar nerve issue in September. All three underwent season-ending surgery. For most of the summer, the Mets thought Zack Wheeler would help them upon his return from Tommy John surgery, but he suffered multiple setbacks and never pitched a single inning.
deGrom’s dominant game
NYY@NYM: deGrom overpowers Yankees, rips two hits
Jacob deGrom tosses seven shutout innings on four hits and one walk while striking out eight and going 2-for-3 at the plate
The Mets also spent long swaths of the summer ranking among baseball’s worst offensive teams. But a healthy Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera allowed them to improve mightily in that regard in August and September.
Cabrera’s walk-off home run
PHI@NYM: Cabrera hits walk-off three-run jack in 11th
Asdrubal Cabrera walks it off with a three-run jack to right field to give the Mets a 9-8 win in the 11th
Biggest surprise: Rookies Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo not only saved the Mets’ injury-riddled rotation, but they also came out of nowhere to do it. Gsellman was a 13th-round Draft pick who posted a 5.73 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas before coming to the Mets. Lugo was a 34th-round pick whose ERA hovered at 6.50 in Vegas. Combined, they went 8-3 with a 2.66 ERA in the Mets’ rotation, filling in for Harvey and Matz.
Gsellman goes seven scoreless
PHI@NYM: Gsellman fans eight over seven scoreless
Robert Gsellman strikes out eight over seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and two walks to earn his third win
Hitter of the Year: Cespedes, both for his overall numbers and his propensity for shining in the biggest spots. After returning to the Mets on a three-year, $75-million deal, Cespedes led them in most major offensive categories, including home runs, RBIs, on-base percentage and slugging. But the Mets now risk losing Cespedes, who can opt out of the final two years of his contract this winter.
Pitcher of the Year: No one deserves this accolade more than Noah Syndergaard, who finished his first full big league season third in the Majors with a 2.60 ERA and fourth in the NL with 218 strikeouts. A fringe Cy Young Award candidate, Syndergaard made 30 starts for the Mets, more than anyone not named Colon. He remains a critical piece of the franchise’s core.
Syndergaard fans 11 in win
PIT@NYM: Syndergaard strikes out 11 over 8 1/3
Noah Syndergaard strikes out 11 and allows only two runs (one earned) on five hits over 8 1/3 innings to earn his seventh win
Rookie of the Year: With a nod to T.J. Rivera, whose exemplary contributions were limited to September, Matz was the Mets’ most prolific rookie. Had injuries not interfered, Matz might have made a serious run at the NL Rookie of the Year Award so many predicted for him before the season. He wound up finishing 9-8 with a 3.40 ERA in 22 starts — strong numbers, but not nearly enough to compete with the Corey Seagers of the world.
Matz misses bats, no-no into 8th
Matz dominates, flirts with no-hitter against Padres
Steven Matz dominates the Padres, striking out eight and going 7 1/3 frames before allowing his first hit of the game
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Source: Mets News / Mets persevere through injury-plagued 2016