Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor reacts after flying out to end...

Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor reacts after flying out to end an MLB baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in the tenth inning at Citi Field on Monday, April 1, 2024. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

It was four games into this season — four games into a new manager, a new philosophy, and a new president of baseball operations — and already, the questions that plagued the Mets last year were being repeated in Flushing.

Why is a lineup that is so talented on paper languishing when it’s actually time to play the games?

“We’ve faced some good pitching but we’re also chasing a lot,” manager Carlos Mendoza said. “We’ve been passive at times early in the count when we’re taking fastballs right down the middle, and then we chase. That’s basically it. We’ve got to be able to dictate at-bats and we’ve got to be ready to go from pitch one and lay off some of those pitches because right now, there are some empty at-bats there.”

Tuesday’s game against the Tigers was postponed due to rain and is scheduled to be made up Thursday at 1:10 p.m.

Four games is, of course, too early for anyone to panic about anything, but as the Mets watched the rain fall Tuesday, there was nonetheless a distinct sense of urgency. This team hasn’t lost the first five games of the season since 2005 and, with the rotation looking vulnerable and the defense lacking, it’s the hitting that has caused the highest level of concern. They’ve scored just eight runs in four games, were one-hit on Opening Day, have a .188 team average and, maybe just as concerning, have drawn just nine walks — second worst in baseball.

The culprits aren’t the kids either, but veteran players known for their consistency: Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo went into the day 3-for-44 with three walks and eight strikeouts (they each have a hit apiece). McNeil and Nimmo, in particular, are chasing at a higher rate than usual, and both are swinging less at pitches they’d otherwise feast on, according to the plate discipline metrics on Baseball Savant.

“I just feel like we haven’t found our footing,” Lindor said after their 5-0, 10-inning loss to the Tigers Monday. “Everybody shows up early, has batting practice, studies. We’re well-prepared, the coaching staff is preparing us, we know what we’ve got to do. We just haven’t executed.”


Are they pressing?

“We’re always going to press,” he said. “Pressure to me is not a bad thing. Pressure is an opportunity to be successful.”

Yes, but it’s also an opportunity to flounder — something this team learned all too well last year, which started with gargantuan expectations and ended with nothing but regret. Those expectations are tempered in what’s being called a “transitional” season, but there’s always been a belief that this team would be competitive, and it’s possible that hitters are simply “trying to do too much,” Mendoza said — “especially when we’re trying to get a ‘W’.”

They’re not “taking walks, creating traffic. That’s what happens — you chase, you expand and then there’s a lot of weak contact and early outs,” he said.

Mendoza has tried getting things going, debuting five different lineups on five different days. Had they played Tuesday, McNeil was slated to hit seventh and Brett Baty, who’s had a strong start to the season, was moved up to fifth. Francisco Alvarez was also slotted into the cleanup role for the second time this season.

“Ideally, in a perfect world, I like the consistency,” Mendoza said. “I’m not going to say one through nine, but at least one through five or six, I’d like to have some type of consistency. But until we find that, we’ll continue to mix and match.”

Notes & quotes: Kodai Senga had an off day after playing catch at 90 feet for two consecutive days for the first time since sustaining a moderate strain in the posterior capsule of his right throwing shoulder. The next step is throwing at 120 feet and increasing intensity, Mendoza said. “This is something that’s still fluid,” Mendoza said. “We’ll continue to reassess every time he throws. He’s off today. He’s with the trainers getting treatment, getting checked out, but slowly, it’s moving in the right direction.” . . . J.D. Martinez is still getting at-bats in Port St. Lucie as he ramps up to join the team. The Mets are unsure if Martinez will need to be assigned to an affiliate before he comes to Flushing. Regardless, MLB rules dictate that, barring injury to a position player, the earliest Martinez can join the Mets is Sunday in Cincinnati.

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months