At the beginning of the season it was thought that the Mets might be contenders in the National League this year, primarily because of their fine young pitching.
You had to feel that with aces like J.D. deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zach Wheeler leading the rotation, they could more than make up for a questionable defense and lineup.
Wrong. If anything, it has been the team’s potent lineup that has made amends for the less than dependable pitching.
DeGrom has been good, but much like last year, he is very unlucky. His offense doesn’t support him, so his record is 6-7 despite a fine 2.78 ERA.
Syndergaard (4.10), Matz (4.60) and Wheeler (4.45) all were less than expected. Fifth starter Jason Vargas had been pretty solid, but the team traded him away last week and Marcus Stroman was picked up from Toronto and immediately smelled bad in his opener with the Pirates.
The bullpen has always been questionable and Edwin Diaz, the closer, is 1-6 with six blown saves and a high ERA of 5.44.
Seth Lugo has been great and was recently named N.L. reliever of the month for July. He never allowed a run for the entire month and he held opponent batting averages to .075.
But the Mets are still in the Wild Card race, despite their lackluster pitching. The hitters have proven to be dependable and the lineup is quite deep.
At the start of the schedule, Jeff McNeil didn’t even have a position. Now he is the leadoff hitter, right fielder and the leading hitter in the National League with a .334 average.
He leads the team with 28 doubles and is near the top in runs scored and hits.
Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso has been a sensation. He leads the team with 34 home runs and 79 RBIs and he has given the team a true power-hitting threat.
Michael Conforto has played all three outfield positions and has powered 22 home runs so far.
There is a nice balance at the top of the order with McNeil and Conforto both lefty hitters, while Alonso and burly catcher Wilson Ramos each hitting from the right side.
Ramos had a huge game on Saturday as he collected four hits and drove in six runs, leading the Mets to their ninth win in 11 games.
Youthful shortstop Amed Rosario is having a fine second half of the season, as is utility player J.D. Davis who has been getting a lot of playing time since Dom Smith got injured.
Two veterans, Todd Frazier and Robinson Cano, round out the lineup and though neither one is having a great year with the bat, they are the type of older players who have been through pennant races before and will serve as team leaders.
The Mets were not sellers on July 31, even though many fans expected them to be. The organization showed enough faith in the roster, to keep players in New York and take a shot at making the playoffs.
It was 50 years ago that the Mets of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee and Donn Clendenon shocked the baseball world by winning the championship.
Wouldn’t it be something if this group of Metropolitans pulled off the same kind miracle? Probably won’t happen, but as Tug McGraw used to say, “ya gotta believe!”