Dillon Gee came unglued in the fifth inning of a game against the Braves on May 25, sending the Mets to a fifth straight loss and lowering their record to 17-29.
Since then, they've gone 29-26 and are 13-10 in July. How did the Mets improve?
Ike Davis' on-base plus slugging percentage fell to .500 on June 9 and he was sent to the minors. Davis was recalled on July 5 and in the first 16 games (11 starts) since returning he hit .244 with a .393 on-base percentage and .748 OPS. He walks (11) nearly as often as he struck out (14). Before being sent to the minors, Davis had a strikeout to walk split of 66-19.
The change in Davis is largely due to Terry Collins employing the platoon advantage.
The lefthanded-hitting Davis now sees most of his action against righthanded pitchers while righthander Josh Satin is getting the majority of at-bats against southpaws. Satin's true value comes vs. lefties, against whom he has a .429 average (15-for-35) and as many walks (8) as strikeouts (8).
Lagares chipping in
Lefthander Kirk Nieuwenhuis, sent to the minors Friday in a roster crunch, didn't have impressive numbers, hitting .189. But platooning in July, Nieuwenhuis had a .788 OPS, with righthander Juan Lagares chipping in a .990 OPS before yesterday, mostly against lefties.
Collins deserves credit for his intelligent use of the practice. Braves starter Kris Medlen, for example, has no significant platoon advantage, and has allowed a higher batting average (.301) to righties than lefties (.258). Collins inserted Lagares into the lineup against Medlen on July 23 and Lagares was 1-for-2 with a double.
Collins publicly called out a struggling Gee (6.34 ERA) before his start against the Yankees on May 30. In his next 10 starts including that game, Gee was 5-1 with a 2.39 ERA and he increased his strike percentage from 62 to 67 percent and raised his strikeout-to-walk rate from 3.05 from 2.17.
He's also benefitted from better luck. Starting pitchers generally have a batting average on balls in play of around .300. Gee was .370 before that Yankee Stadium start. During his recent stretch of dominance, he has a .277 BABIP.
Young getting it done
On June 18, the Mets sent swingman Collin McHugh to the Rockies for outfielder Eric Young Jr. Young had a .291 OBP with Colorado but has a .351 OBP with the Mets entering action Saturday, solidifying the leadoff spot. Young's hitting .275 with the Mets after batting .242 with the Rockies. The big change is a higher walk rate, up to 10.1 percent from 6.1.
Pen is mightier
After a horrid April (5.09 ERA), relievers settled down in May (3.99) and June (4.16). But July is outstanding -- 2.03 ERA before yesterday. The controllable elements -- strikeouts, walks, home runs -- are all stable. However, the pen is permitting a .338 slugging percentage against, 77 points lower than their previous best month (.405 in June). That's also a credit to improved defense.
More bang for their Buck
John Buck was hitting .263 with 10 home runs on May 3. He then slumped, batting .170 with a .483 OPS from May 5 to June 28. Since June 29, however, he's batting .297 with an .844 OPS. During Buck's cold stretch, the Mets were 15-26 in games he played. During two hot streaks, the Mets are 21-21.