NL mediocrity, hot streak has Mets in thick of postseason hunt

Mets Harrison Bader
(AP Photo/Pamela Smith)

For all the talks of selling at the trade deadline and tearing it down for David Stearns to start anew, the New York Mets find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt in the middle of June — normally a time of the season when the wheels fall off. 

Instead, the Mets appear to have gotten their annual nosedive out of the way early following a 9-19 May. 

On the morning of June 3, the Mets were 10 games under .500 and four games out of the final Wild Card spot in the National League. Since then, they won nine of 11 heading into Monday night’s series opener in Texas against the slumping defending champion Rangers.

While six teams still sit between them and a Wild Card spot, the Mets are just 1.5 games out and 5.5 games out of second place in the NL East behind the Atlanta Braves, who had a 9.5-game cushion over the Mets just two weeks ago. 

“A lot of people forget that this game is hard and you are going to go through struggles, and you have to find a way to stay positive, even when it’s hard,” manager Carlos Mendoza said. (h/t SNY). To see [the players] come through, it’s exciting. The expectations are that we will continue to prepare, push each other, and compete.”

Lindor Mets padres
New York Mets’ Francisco Lindor celebrates hitting a home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Sunday, June 16, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Pamela Smith)

In theory, the Mets do not have much business being in such an advantageous position. After completing a sweep of the San Diego Padres on Sunday afternoon to win their fifth straight game, they were still four games under .500.

But Major League Baseball adding a third Wild Card team cracks the door slightly further for teams who flirt with .500 — a system that has created its fair share of curmudgeons who believe the postseason should be for the season’s elite rather than its mediocre. That is more than an understandable viewpoint, especially because the majority of the National League is just average. 

Entering Monday night’s action, only four teams in the NL are above .500, meaning a hot streak of any kind like the Mets are in can do wonders for their postseason position. 

In recent days, star shortstop Francisco Lindor has talked on multiple occasions about riding good “waves” when they present themselves. If the Mets can stay on their proverbial boards long enough to get into a playoff position and then tread water, that might be a good enough formula to play baseball into October, at least for this year.

“We have a plan, we have a purpose. Our intent usually follows the plan that we have,” Lindor told reporters. “We’re playing well. Like I said, this is a good wave that we’re riding right now. We just have to stay on as long as we can. Once that wave is done, we have to find another good wave.”

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