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How Kind Will The Road Be To The Mets?

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After the Mets squeaked out their first win in game two of the doubleheader vs. the Tigers on Thursday, they embarked on their first road trip of the season. Road trips can help bring teams together and an early season trip to Cincinnati and Atlanta won’t be a picnic. Last season the Mets were 1-2 vs. the Reds in Cincinnati and 1-5 vs. the Braves in Atlanta.

Road trips makes life simpler for players. When they are home there are family and personal responsibilities that must coordinated around the player’s need to prepare and play games. Those responsibilities don’t disappear on the road, but picking up the kids from school or practice, doing some things with the family while around is where real life intersects with being a baseball professional.

Home teams win about 53% of the time. Going into the Cincinnati series the Mets in their history are 2,209-2695 all-time on the road. That .450 winning percentage is less than today’s average, although teams do win on the road more a little more often today than they did 50 years ago.

Both Great America Park in Cincinnati and Truist Park in Atlanta are good parks for hitters. There are several Mets who could use a change of scenery after their rough starts at CitiField. Brandon Nimmo, Francisco Lindor, and Jeff McNeil all have struggled to get base hits so far. D.J. Stewart has really struggled and is looking for his first hit going into Friday night’s game.

The Mets made a few good plays defensively in their two series vs. the Brewers and Tigers, but there were also too many sloppy plays and miscues. Zach Short and Joey Wendle both brought in for their reliable defense, made important errors that cost the team. The whole team needs to play with more sharpness and outward desire. At the same time, it isn’t easy to be a vocal leader when a player is struggling with his own game. How fired up can Nimmo, Lindor, and McNeil get when they are a combined 3 for 60 (0.50) heading into the Reds series?  

A team’s early success on the road can propel a team forward with a confidence that can be season long. The flip side is a disastrous road trip could bury the Mets in the division before they return home on April 12. A 1-6 road trip would leave the Mets 2-11. That not only feels bad, it is bad. Trying to keep up with the Braves and Phillies means keeping them in sight.

Putting together a 6-1 road trip which seems unthinkable now, would put the Mets at 7-7 when they return home to play the Kansas City Royals. The task ahead seems larger and larger.  

The recipe for success on the road trip is simple. Stop the opposition from scoring runs and score runs early and often. The Mets starting pitching overall has been good sporting a team ERA of 2.37 good for third in MLB. Outside of Michael Tonkin, the relievers are better than last season. Because the struggles at the plate have been so pronounced there’s a black cloud of pessimism from the fan base. But that’s nothing new for the Mets or their fans.

By taking the first game of the series last night 3-2, splitting the next 6 games would leave the team with a 5-8 record when they return home on Friday. That would not look great but it’s a far cry from 0-5.

Much will be learned about the 2024 Mets in the next 6 days.

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