2017 New York Mets
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2017 New York Mets / Franchise: New York Mets / BR Team Page
Managed by Terry Collins
History, Comments, Contributions
After reaching the postseason the previous two seasons, including a trip to the 2015 World Series, the 2017 New York Mets entered the season with high expectations based on their having re-signed All-Star OFs Yoennis Cespedes and Jay Bruce to give them a strong line-up in support of a starting rotation full of great young pitchers. However, things did not go as expected over the first few weeks, as the injury bug hit the team with a vengeance. Among the victims were 3B David Wright - something not entirely unexpected given he had missed significant time the last few seasons - but also starting pitchers Steven Matz and Seth Lugo who were unable to start the season. In fact, the Mets' projected spring rotation of Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Matz and Zack Wheeler was never together all season, as at least one of the five was on the disabled list at every point of the season.
1B Lucas Duda and Cespedes both started off strong, only to be felled by injuries within a couple of weeks, and they were soon joined by C Travis d'Arnaud. The season also started with closer Jeurys Familia suspended for 15 games because of a domestic violence incident in the off-season. Then, in a bizarre development, ace SP Syndergaard complained of some arm discomfort but refused to undergo an MRI as suggested by team doctors, then started a game after a few additional days of rest on April 30th only to leave the game in the 2nd inning clutching his side. He had no choice but to undergo the medical procedure that time, and it revealed a pulled lateral muscle, putting him out of action for a prolonged period. His start when he was injured resulted in a 23-5 drubbing at the hands of the Washington Nationals, one of the worst losses in team history. The few bright lights in April were Bruce and fellow OF Michael Conforto, who were both hitting well, allowing the team to hover just below .500.
On May 7th, the story took a turn towards a soap opera when P Harvey, back after missing the second half of 2016 with an injury, was suspended by the team for three days for "violating team rules". He had apparently failed to show up for the previous day's game without permission, although he claimed it was simply a case of miscommunication, as he had advised the team he had a migraine headache. The Mets replaced him that day with minor league journeyman Adam Wilk who could not make it ouf of the 4th inning in a 7-0 loss to the Miami Marlins. While the drama was reaching its crescendo, the Mets actually began to play better. On May 9th, Wheeler, back from missing two years with various injuries, led them to a 6-1 win over the San Francisco Giants, giving them 8 wins in their last 11 games and putting them back at .500 with a record 16-16. However, that upward tick did not last as they lost their next six games to fall to 9 games back of first place, already their second losing streak of that length since the start of the season. Familia also went down around that time, victim of a blood clot requiring surgery. They suffered a seventh straight loss on May 17th, 5-4 to the Arizona Diamondbacks, when Rafael Montero gave up a game-winning homer to Chris Herrmann in the 12th. The injuries were continuing to pile up as well, with SS Asdrubal Cabrera joining the crowded DL that day. The loss completed the team's first winless road trip since 1999.
Other bizarre incidents in May included the Mets releasing a photo of T.J. Rivera celebrating a game-winning hit in the clubhouse, with in the background a sex toy clearly visible in Kevin Plawecki's locker (the back-up catcher explained he had been pranked by teammates, but no one had caught the problem before the image was released) and the team's mascot, Mr. Met, being caught making an obscene gesture to a fan in the stands on May 31st (the employee wearing the costume that day was fired). With all of that drama going on, the Mets went 13-14 in May and were still in second place at the end of the month, albeit 9 1/2 games back of the first-place Nationals. They were starting to lose ground in the wild card race as well, as they were already 8 games back of the second wild card slot.
After the early barrage of injuries, the Mets finally began to get healthy in early June. In a span of two days, Cespedes returned after missing seven weeks to hit a grand slam in a 6-1 win over the Atlanta Braves in the first game of a doubleheader on June 10th, then in the second game, Matz made his first start of the year after beginning the season on the disabled list and was an 8-1 winner after a strong performance. The following day, it was Lugo's turn to win his season's debut, 2-1. While still missing Syndergaard, the Mets now had a surfeit of healthy - albeit fragile - starting pitchers and announced that they would go with a six-man starting rotation for a time. The Mets had fallen to as many as 8 games under .500 on June 6th, but there was now some cautious optimism developing around the team. That did not last long however, as on June 15th, the Mets put two key players on the DL, P Harvey, who had lost a lot of velocity on his fastball because of an injured scapula muscle in his shoulder, and 2B Neil Walker, who had a partially torn hamstring. That same day, CF Juan Lagares broke his thumb making a diving catch in the 5th inning in an 8-3 loss to the Nationals.
The Mets were sellers before and after the trading deadline sending Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays, Addison Reed to the Boston Red Sox, Jay Bruce to the Cleveland Indians, Curtis Granderson to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Neil Walker to the Milwaukee Brewers. Most of these deals were done to shed salary, not to add prospects. Matz was lost for the year shortly after that, undergoing surgery on a nerve in his throwing shoulder on August 21st. Three days later, it was Conforto, their lone All-Star, who went down for the remainder of the season after he dislocated his left shoulder on a swing-and-miss. His 27 homers were second on the team behind the Bruce's 29, and ahead of Granderson's 19 and Duda's 17, so it meant the Mets had lost their four main power threats in the span of a less than a month. The only positive news for fans biding the time until the end of the season was that Cespedes and Jeurys Familia were back after a long absence. On August 25th, the day of Familia's return, however, Cespedes left the game in the 1st inning with a hamstring strain that also looked season-ending, further depleting what remained of the team. With all the injury shenanigans going on, journalist Ted Berg put things in perspective, following a decision to start Matt Harvey on short rest in September, after he had returned from yet another injury only to be shelled in his first appearance: "[They] consistently try to repair fine china by smashing it with a sledgehammer and then wonder why they’re short on formal dinnerware."
Amidst all the bad news, the Mets did one thing well in 2017: hit home runs. On September 25, Travis d'Arnaud hit the team's 219th homer of the year, beating the record they had set the previous year. It was only the third time a Mets team had hit 200 or more homers, the other instance having come in 2006, when they had hit exactly 200. They finished with 224 homers. On October 1st, following the season's final game, Terry Collins announced he was stepping down as manager and would assume a front office role instead.
Awards and Honors
- All-Star: Michael Conforto
- Bob Klapisch: "How did Mets become such a train wreck?", USA Today Sports, April 22, 2017. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Injuries, sex toys and Matt Harvey's suspension: The Mets' season, sideways", USA Today Sports', May 7, 2017. 
- Jorge L. Ortiz: "From reeling to dealing? Mets know break-up time is coming soon", USA Today Sports, June 26, 2017.