Brewers sweep offers painful reminder the Mets didn't see coming

St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers
St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers / John Fisher/GettyImages

When the New York Mets hired David Stearns to run baseball operations, it marked a day that had been a year in the making.

Stearns, a highly respected executive who ran the Brewers, built a team in Milwaukee that thrived on pitching and defense. They had numerous options, both in the majors and minors, that could eat innings and be “out getters” — a phrase that both Stearns and former manager Craig Counsell often used together with the Brewers.

In the first series of the 2024 season, the Mets were swept by the Brewers. Stearns and the rest of the organization saw up close what he is now responsible for building in New York.

The series against the Brewers also underscored just how much work Stearns has ahead.

Brewers sweep focused David Stearns' uphill climb with Mets

Privately this spring, people with the Mets were optimistic that the roster would be more athletic and better defensively than last season. But the Brewers’ defense was superior, with the Mets making a series of defensive miscues. Their pitching, both starting and in the bullpen, was better.

The biggest question for the Mets, however, is the pitching staff. They lack depth with Kodai Senga on the Injured List and that depth was further tested after Tylor Megill was removed after four innings on Sunday after complaining about a shoulder issue. It’s unclear how deep into games the current rotation can pitch, with none of their starters pitching over five innings in the Brewers series, and that will place further pressure on an undermanned staff.

With Senga out, the Mets lack a high-end strikeout pitcher which will lead to more balls in play, as Will Sammon of The Athletic noted. It’s one of the reasons why the Mets prioritized Harrison Bader, an elite defensive center fielder, and other above-average defensive players and why Stearns will continue to place a high priority on them going forward.

Stearns views pitching and defense as working hand-in-hand. In Milwaukee, he often called them a “run-prevention unit." And in the first three games of the series, he saw the product of that from his former team. Now, it’s his job to build that in New York — except with a larger payroll and more resources at his disposal.

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