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Who the heck are the 2018 Mets, anyway?

The most obvious answer is that they’re 15-7, which is pretty damn good. But they sure didn’t look 15-7 during Wednesday night’s ghastly loss. They sure haven’t looked like that for a solid two weeks now, in fact.

Wednesday night’s game will be dealt with succinctly, out of a certain measure of decorum. Steven Matz [1] was very good for two innings and then boy howdy was he not so good. The defense was horrific, which didn’t help but shouldn’t taken as absolution either. It was a very Niese-ian performance, which is about as far as one can get from a compliment, at least from this recapper.

The lone bright spot visible in the darkness of the evening [2] was Corey Oswalt [3], the 1,049th Met in club history but at least for a night first in our hearts. Oswalt was briefly in residence in Miami, going so far as to warm up in the bullpen, but was sent back to Las Vegas without having pitched in a big-league game. That meant he wasn’t a Met but a ghost, his blue and orange of the pale, pastel, semi-transparent variety. When he got sent down Oswalt became the 10th ghost in team history, and the third with no other major-league experience. That’s a status not to be wished on anybody; happily, Oswalt was only stuck with it for two weeks before ascending to the land of the statistically living. (Matt Reynolds [4] spent an entire offseason not only haunting the ectoplasmic realm but also weighed down with asterisks, as he’d been added to the active postseason roster but not appeared in a game.)

An infinite ERA in a miserable zeroth of an inning would have been better than ghost status, but Oswalt went far beyond that, remaining out there for the rest of the game and giving the bullpen a breather. Who knows what the future holds for him, but at least for a night he can smile and say he not only did his job but was also a good teammate. (As opposed to, say, a pitcher who’d make a rookie catcher speak for him one night and then return the next day to give other people doing their jobs surly expletives followed by silence. But alas, none of that particular teammate’s misbehavior is much of a surprise at this point.)

Zooming out from the wreckage of the game, what do we have here? Damned if I can tell. The Mets have one superlative starting pitcher, another whose track record suggests superlatives will once more be the norm, and then a bunch of question marks. They have a bullpen that’s looked invulnerable and then looked incompetent. They have hitters who have risen to some big shiny moments amid a worrisome amount of statistical tarnish. They have a manager who’s gone from genius to suspect to we don’t know what. They’ve even worn horrible uniforms two nights in a row for no apparent reason.

Some of that is statistical noise, of course, a frantic attempt to find patterns in the first few threads of the season’s tapestry. Maybe all of it is statistical noise. Whatever it is, it’s perplexing, confounding and thoroughly bewildering. The baseball Magic 8-ball has no answer that isn’t gnomic and unsatisfying.

So it goes. Tomorrow afternoon they and we will give it another shake, and see what swims up to be read.