The Mets. First thought when reading that sentence? A bulbous-headed mascot? Turmoil? Mookie Wilson? Flushing? This season’s sweep of the Nationals?
Lots have happened for the Mets. Of late, the main thing has been a resurgence. New York won six in a row and 13 of 14 to show up again in the wild-card race. It is three games over .500 and a half-game out of a wild-card spot.
Yes, the Mets. The team which has lurched through major injuries to Yoenis Cespedes and Robinson Cano. The group managed by Mickey Callaway, who cited out-of-control former manager Billy Martin as a reason why Callaway’s rant against a reporter really wasn’t that bad. The organization which had to apologize this season for including two players in a video montage of deceased players from the 1969 Miracle Mets because they were still alive -- then misspelled the name of one in the apology.
So, how are they here, back to being competitive before hosting the wild-card leading Nationals for a three-game weekend series? A soft schedule has helped. Their recent run of five series wins has come against sub-.500 teams: San Diego, Pittsburgh (twice), the Chicago White Sox and Miami. All those teams are out of it. Miami is the worst team in baseball.
However, something has to be going right to pick up series sweeps and win with such frequency. The Mets’ starting rotation has the best ERA in baseball since the All-Star break. Pete Alonso has hit 37 home runs. Jeff McNeil has hit all season despite not having a positional home. As a result, the Mets moved forward in much the same manner Washington vaulted itself from pulse-free to back in the race: good starting pitching, enough hitting, surviving the bullpen, inferior opponents.
The schedule is about to flip on New York. Washington comes to town with the best three pitchers it has available -- Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Aníbal Sánchez -- lined up. The Mets counter with Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. A trip to Atlanta follows, a respite against woeful Kansas City is next, then Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago (NL) and Philadelphia are on the docket before a trip to Washington. It’s a rough run.
But the Mets have handled the Nationals this season, in large part thanks to a four-game sweep in late May which put Washington down and nearly out. The Nationals are 5-8 against New York. They are 9-5 against Philadelphia and 6-6 versus Atlanta. The Mets are the only National League East team with a winning record against the Nationals.
Which means this weekend is another jolt on the Nationals’ possible ride to the postseason. They dispatched San Francisco to start the week -- proving the Giants out to be non-contenders. Next is trying to kick back the Mets, who always have something going on, it just happens to be positive of late.
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