Ten days ago, the New York Mets were left for dead. The Mets had completed a dreadful 1-6 road trip, captain David Wright was dealing with a shoulder injury, and the Mets faced a 10 game home stand when they couldn't win at home. The Mets faced the proposition of being essentially out of the playoff race by the All Star Break, but they did the unexpected and went 8-2 over their final 10 games to move into third place in the National League East.
The Mets got strong pitching throughout the home stand, but the biggest positive for them was their offense. The Mets had been striking out a ton at home earlier in the season, but the Mets cut their strike outs dramatically. The Mets also scored at least four runs in all eight of their wins, after the team failed to score more than four runs in a game in five of their previous eight games. The boost in offense came with a boost in power, as the team hit 10 homers during the home stand. The Mets have had a big power surge of late, and it's power has supported very strong starting pitching.
Even though June hero Bartolo Colon has come back to Earth, the rest of the staff has picked him up. Zack Wheeler has looked much more consistent over his last few turns, and Jacob deGrom continues to impress. Daisuke Matsuzaka has also done an admirable job holding the fort while the Mets awaited the return of Dillon Gee, and with Jonathon Niese coming back after the All Star Break the Mets will strengthen their bullpen when Matsuzaka moves back into it.
The Mets generated some excitement and optimism about the team's direction this home stand, but they still remain five games below .500 and seven games back in both the wild card and division races. The Mets can dream about a 1973-esque surge to a playoff berth, but the Mets need to reach .500 before they can even consider a playoff push. The Mets will begin the push for .500 after the All Star Break out west, when they meet the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners before ending the road trip in Milwaukee.
The Mets have done well prior to the break in a few seasons under Terry Collins, but collapsed immediately afterwards. The Mets need to avoid a collapse if they want their dreams of playoff contention to remain alive. Even though the Padres are one of the worst teams in the league, the Mets have never played well in Petco Park. Seattle is a good team in the wild card race in the American League, while Milwaukee is still leading the NL Central. The Mets need to at least post a winning road trip to keep the ball rolling before decisions need to be made at the trade deadline. If the Mets do what they have done in the past and go 2-7 after the break, the Mets will have a lot of tough choices to make.
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