The calendar flip to June had often been a bugaboo for the Mets. There’s no real way to explain why it happened, but too often, Septembers or Octobers would roll around with the organization and fans alike ruing the team’s performance over that 30-day early-summer window.
A team that finished three games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the final Wild Card spot in 2019 went 10-18 in June.
A team that started 2018 at 29-27 went 5-21 in June, making a 45-37 finish to that season worthless.
At least they didn’t have to deal with June last season with Major League Baseball’s COVID-shortened season starting in July.
But entering June of 2021, the writing was on the wall for another June swoon as the Mets and their bench mob were riddled by injuries while plucking names from the minors you hadn’t heard of until they showed up to Citi Field. Guys like Pat Mazeika, Mason Williams, Travis Blankenhorn, and Tylor Megill.
Yet another comeback win on Tuesday night in Atlanta over the Braves clinched the Mets a .500 June — a rather remarkable feat considering the uncertainties that came with the roster for more than half the month.
Now things are slowly creeping back to normal, though Mets fans will be knocking on every wooden surface in their home as not to jinx such a notion.
Jacob deGrom appears to have shaken off nagging injuries that have plagued him since May and the restrictions are coming off for his start on Thursday night.
Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil — two of the Mets’ most valuable bats on paper — are back after dealing with lengthy hamstring issues.
Brandon Nimmo and J.D. Davis aren’t too far behind. The former began his rehab assignment in Syracuse on Tuesday while the latter is projected to begin his next week.
All the while, the Mets’ offense that is the worst in Major League Baseball is doing just enough to support a sterling pitching staff that is without Carlos Carrasco, Noah Syndergaard, Jeurys Familia, and Robert Gsellman to keep the team in first place in a disappointingly tame National League East division.
There is a belief that the Mets’ offense will wake up sooner rather than later — but it’s vital for the club to stress the “sooner” part.
After all, this is their chance to make a sizable statement to not just the division, but to MLB.
A series win in Atlanta would help open up some more breathing space for the Mets’ division lead, which was at three games entering Wednesday night’s middle game of a three-game series.
Then comes a weekend series in the Bronx against a struggling Yankees team that is woefully underperforming but will be keen on showing that it still holds supremacy of the Big Apple. A convincing performance at Yankee Stadium would help indicate that tide is turning in the city — regardless of how high Yankee expectations may be.
Following a three-game series against the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers, the Mets play seven straight games against a Pittsburgh Pirates team that owns the third-worst record in baseball behind only the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Should the Mets start clicking on all cylinders — which is a promising thought considering they’re a first-place team despite the struggles and injuries — this is a team that could be starting the second half of the season with a comfortable advantage in the division.
But they’ll need to strike while the iron is hot. It’s plugged in, but let’s see how much it can heat up.