Javier Baez follows up Wednesday night star turn with five-strikeout dud against Marlins

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Welcome, New York, to the rollercoaster that is Javier Baez. In less than a week, Mets fans have already lived the full Baez experience, riding high with his go-ahead homer Wednesday night in Miami, followed by one of the worst performances of his career less than 24 hours later.

The 28-year-old imploded Thursday, striking out in all five trips to the plate as the Mets dropped their series finale, falling to the Marlins, 4-2. That sunk Baez’s average to a dismal .160 (4-for-25) since joining the Mets at last week’s MLB trade deadline (unloaded as part of the Cubs’ mass exodus).

Miami’s pitching staff is quietly among the league’s best (fourth-lowest ERA), but naturally the Mets were expecting more out of Baez, a two-time All-Star who, three years ago, finished runner-up to Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich in NL MVP voting. Baez has hit for plenty of power (his 24 homers are second-most among shortstops, trailing only San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr.) this year, but he’s struck out an inordinate amount (MLB-worst 141 Ks) while also suffering from a lack of focus defensively (career-high 19 errors).

On paper, the Mets boast one of the sport’s better infields with Baez and Francisco Lindor (his teammate on the Puerto Rican national team) up the middle and J.D. Davis and Pete Alonso on either corner. But reality is never as kind with Lindor (currently rehabbing a strained oblique that has shelved him since mid-July) struggling through a career-worst season and Baez looking every bit as feast or famine as he did during his final days in Chicago.

The floundering Mets aren’t quite a team in crisis—even after dropping six of eight, they still hold a one-game edge over the second-place Phillies with a chance to expand that lead this weekend in Philadelphia. But with first-time All-Star Taijuan Walker coming apart at the seams (0-3 with a 12.00 ERA since the All-Star break) and ace Jacob deGrom still feeling the effects of what doctors are calling “right elbow inflammation,” you can see a dark, threatening cloud beginning to form over the Mets’ season.

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