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Red Hot Mets Are Ready To Challenge The Best In The National League

Fresh off a sweep of the Pirates and a successful homestand with their fourth straight series win, the suddenly hot Mets have a day off to travel to Los Angeles where they will play the Dodgers in a big weekend series. It’s a far bigger series for the Mets than it is for Mookie, Freddie, Shohei and Dodgers fans. The Dodgers are in first place and already seem like they are on cruise control just waiting for the playoffs to begin.

The Mets on the other hand are the underdog team trying to prove they belong in the conversation for being among the National League’s best teams. While they’ve bounced back nicely from the 0-5 start winning 10 of 13 games, they won two series against two good teams on the road, versus the Braves (finally!), and the Reds, then two series at home vs. the Royals and Pirates, teams that had gotten off to good starts, but ran into a Mets team playing better than they were.

The Dodgers are quite another team to deal with. The Mets pitching, sporting a NL league-leading ERA has been, in a word, excellent. Sure, the starters like Jose Quintana and Adrian Houser could go deeper into the games. Even one more inning would help as the Mets do not yet have a starting pitcher complete seven innings in one start. But the starters have been solid, more solid than you could have expected from the group. Jose Butto has worked himself into being a starting rotation piece even when Tylor Megill returns from his injury.

The relief corps has also outperformed expectations. Edwin Diaz has looked great and has not blown a save in more than 25 chances going back to 2022. Adam Ottovino and Brooks Raley have been steady, Drew Smith more good than bad, and 31-year-old Reed Garrett who pitched for the Mets in 9 games in 2023, has been a revelation. Jorge Lopez and Jake Diekman have had mixed results but again more good than bad. The bullpen Wednesday tossed another four shutout innings, has the lowest ERA in the NL. Did anyone think there was a chance the Met bullpen could be league best? Um no.

The lineup has been productive even with Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil not yet in gear. What’s been great for Carlos Mendoza to watch is that different players seem to contribute every game.  Some night’s it’s been Pete Alonso, other nights it’s been Harrison Bader coming up with the big hit at the right moment. Bench contributions from D.J. Stewart and Tyrone Taylor have been positive, and even lightly used Joey Wendell came up with a big hit this week. Omar Narvaez looks much better at the plate this season than he did in 2023.

When a team is on a hot streak as the Mets have been, things just seem to…work. Things like double steals and batted balls that find the right holes, happen every night bolstering team confidence. Not only have the Mets righted the ship, but they’ve also put themselves in a position to make some noise in both the NL East as well as the National League. That seemed far-fetched on April 12th when they left for Cincinnati following their 1-5 homestand.

It won’t be easy, and the Mets don’t expect that it will. They could face rookie sensation Yonshinobu Yamamoto if he’s held back a day from his scheduled Thursday start, as well as Gavin Stone and veteran left James Paxton at Dodger Stadium. After taking that test the Mets head north to San Francisco to face a suddenly struggling Giants team that has several new faces including rookie outfielder Jung Hoo Lee, Matt Chapman, and Blake Snell, who is set to make his first start of the season for the Giants on Friday. His turn could come up again the last game of the series on Wednesday next week.

The Mets are not without concerns. Brett Baty is on the sideline with hamstring tightness. Francisco Alvarez took a bat to his left hand and wrist on a catcher’s interference on Wednesday.  Their pitchers will eventually regress a bit and some of the early season surprises on offense (Baty, Bader, and Tyrone Taylor) might not maintain their hot starts. J.D. Martinez’ Mets debut will be at the end of April at the earliest.

Injured ace Kodai Senga is throwing again and set to come off the Injured list on May 27th and with any luck he should pitch for the Mets soon after that. In the meantime, the Mets weekend in L.A. will offer fans the opportunity to watch how the Mets measure up against the league’s best. They passed the first test winning the Braves series in Atlanta last week. Even with the fact that the Dodgers have a list of all-star pitchers on the injured list now (Kershaw, Buehler, May, Tony Gonsolin, not to mention their DH who can’t pitch this year), they still present their own special kind of challenge when considering pitching to the top of that lineup. It’s still fortunate that the Mets are not facing the Dodgers with a full-strength pitching staff.  

The Mets are ready and looking forward the challenge of the week ahead.

Mark Kolier
Mark Kolierhttps://mlbreport.com/
Mark Kolier along with his son Gordon co-hosts a baseball podcast called ‘Almost Cooperstown’. He also has written baseball-related articles that can be accessed on Medium.com, Substack.com and now MLBReport.com.


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