So I take another little hiatus from blogging... (hey it's the summertime, a brother got to get his Will Smith on!) and when I come back, guess what? The Mets have INCREASED their lead in the NL East. That's what's up, and, it's not entirely unexpected.
Here's the proof. For one, the Mets have the best road record IN ALL OF BASEBALL. Yes, better than the Red Sox, Tigers, Yankees (a mediocre road team), Diamondbacks... you name it. And the key to being an elite team in any sport is how well you are able to perform on the road.
Also the Mets are 23-10 against the Central Division this year. They beat up on the scrubs and hold their own against any team not named Atlanta. Pittsburgh and Washington were exactly the remedy this team needed to make a final push towards the playoffs. With a 5-game lead and only 35 games left in the season, the Mets pretty much control their own Destiny.
So my goal from now until the end of September is to remain positive and optimistic about the team. I want the good vibes to continue and maybe, just maybe, some good karma will rub off on this squad.
Here are a few positives I see going into the stretch run:
- The starting pitching staff is actually performing pretty well at the moment. Tommy Glavine and his 83 mph fastball is still producing results and El Duque has been outstanding. Add a (hopefully) effective Pedro Martinez to the mix and the Mets are looking pretty good going into September. Also, Jorge Sosa has really adapted to the bullpen well and Billy Wagner has been great all season.
- The bench has gotten much better since the departure of Julio Franco and once Endy Chavez returns, the bench will be great. The loss of Damian Easley will hurt, but hopefully Endy can make up for much of that. Milledge and Green will probably platoon once Delgado is back, leaving Marlon Anderson in the Julio Franco position of veteran bat off the bench.
- Beltran is heating up. We've seen this before. When Beltran heats up, he can carry a team all by himself. With Delgado struggling, having a hot Beltran and Alou in the middle of the lineup will be key to the Mets success offensively and in general. Let's hope they both can keep it up.
- The inconsistency of both the Braves and Phillies is what will really determine the Mets fate. While they should definitely make the wild card at least, it's not entirely out of reason that both the Philthies and the Bravos make late season runs. Getting Utley and Victorino back will definitely be a boost to Philly, and we have already seen the effect Texeira has had on the Braves lineup. The Mets need to protect their cushion at all costs.
- The schedule. While the next stretch of games will be key to the Mets season (7 against the Phillies, 6 against the Braves), even if they stumble, the last 2 weeks of the season are insanely easy. All of the last 14 games are against either the Marlins or the Nationals (with a makeup game against the Cardinals being the only exception). So even if the Mets are a game or so out, they stand to gain ground at the end of the year as long as they take care of these cupcake teams
So I'm being positive. I certainly think they will make the playoffs and I certainly think they will go at least as far as they did last year. But the goal is the World Series. It's time to go get it. Holla back.