The New York Mets are still technically in the playoff race, but after a lackluster trade deadline, it seems the team isn't necessarily sold on its ability to get back into any race this year.
The Mets limped through July saddled with injuries, a lack of offense and a general sense of underachieving. They started the month within two games of the division lead, and as of Sunday, they sit seven games back of the division-leading Braves. When they look back at the end of the year, losing five games in the standings in July may be looked at as the final nail in the coffin.
Expectations were once again high for the Mets coming into this year. Likewise, disappointment has been high for the Mets. They have shown little consistency all year, and have been awful on the road with a 20-33 record away from CitiField.
Depsite all of the letdowns, there is a silver lining for the Mets. Well, a couple, actually.
First, pitcher Mike Pelfrey has quietly transformed himself into one of the NL's best pitchers. "Big Pelf" has arguably ascended into the role of ace for a Mets staff that boasts one of the best pitchers in the last decade in Johan Santana.
Pelfrey has cooled as the Mets have, but he's still having a solid season. He's lost his last three decisions, but he still shows flashes of brilliance. In a four-start stretch between May 17 and June 1, Pelfrey posted a 4-0 record, in addition to a microscopic 1.26 ERA.
Pelfrey is also a guy who takes his turn in the rotation every time out and has shown throughout his career that he can be an innings-eater. In 2007, Pelfrey notched 200 2/3 innings, and followed that up with 184 1/3 innings last season. He's already seen 125 innings of work this season.
Consistency issues have plagued him throughout the early stages of his career, but it looks like Pelfrey is a pitcher who is ready to take the next step in his career.
And while if you wanted to nag, you could pick away at that inconsistency, there aren't many negative things to say about the next big thing in New York baseball — Ike Davis.
the most encouraging sign for Mets fans this season has to be the way the first baseman has burst onto the scene as one of the future cornerstones of the franchise. The Arizona State product has even been labeled by some as a "savior" for the organization, which tells you a lot when you consider that players like David Wright and Jose Reyes aren't exactly on the back ends of their careers.
Davis has come in and hit the ground running. Sure, he's seen his peaks and valleys — his .247 batting average is the best indicator of that — but his power (15 home runs and 52 RBIs) are tough to come by.
Davis-like power is even tougher to find in young sluggers as scouts often warn that power is the last thing to develop for hitters. The average should improve, too, as Davis becomes more accustomed to facing big league pitching.
The 2008 first-round draft pick took the fast track to the majors and he looks like he's there to stay.
The evolution of homegrown talent like Pelfrey and Davis, to go along with franchise players like Wright and Reyes, gives the Mets hope for the future.
If they decide to change things up within the organization this offseason, as some have suggested, they will be able to take some solace in the fact that the future may finally be brightening up.