September Is For Swooning

"It's not like it's the first time he's been around the block. When he gets runners on base, he knows how to handle that." Willie Randolph in the understatement of the year, on Steve "The Tortoise" Trachsel's pitching

Where has all of Steve Trachsel's run support gone?

Oh, for the heady days when the Mets would power 6, 7, 8, sometimes 10 runs in support of a Trachsel start freeing him to take his sweet time walking batters, allowing hits, giving out earned runs like a grandpa dispensing learnèd wisdoms to his grandkids.

Yes, back in July the Mets averaged 7.1 runs per Trachsel start and in August it was still 5.6 runs in support. Small wonder then, the winning streak that lasted almost as the time between Trachsel pitches.

This little pie chart shows where the majority of the runs went...

But September has seen of all that good fortune disappear. In his four September starts the Mets have scored 0, 1, 4 and 1 runs for Trachsel, hardly sufficient to protect him for an inning let alone an entire outing.

Even after three walks, eight hits and three runs allowed during an assortment of five different innings, each which rivaled the other for ugliest; a walk to the first batter of the game, second inning lead off single on a bunt ground ball etc., Trachsel still can hold his head high as his ERA, creeping steadily as it has higher, is still under the magical 5.00 mark.

But seeing as how these meaningless games are treated with all the levity of Spring Training, it's little surprise to see the Mets floundering as they did, well, in Spring Training.

Of course the million pound dollar question is once they've shut down the engines will the ignition turn over without a worry on October 3rd or 4th when they start playing meaningful games again?

Yesterday saw Jose Reyes get his 189th hit of the season and his 60th stolen base as well as Philip Humber's first-ever appearance as a Met.

But otherwise, an invalorous appearance which, with little else to worry about, might have caused some a smidget of an uncomfortable sense of dislocation.

If the Mets tumble out of the postseason in the NLDS there will be many who point to the final two weeks of the season, the early clinching, the habits of apathy picked up in playing meaningless game after meaningless game pointing to the postseason.

The Mets were 16-14 in Spring Training before tearing open the new season in April with a 16-8 start. They are 2-4 against the Marlins and Nats since clinching and 11-12 during the month of September. The Phillies meanwhile, with the wildcard in their sights, are 15-7 during September.

With all this idle time between clinching and starting the playoffs the natural inclination is to fidget and worry about all the things we didn't really have to worry much about during the five months of the season.

But with a week remaining, the creeping feeling of having lost that precious momentum is telling. Was the mad dash to the NL East title all for naught or is this merely a lull before the meaningful bit of the season returns?

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