A seemingly endless injured list, a ragtag lineup that looks as though it’s being held together by duct tape and crazy glue, a patchwork rotation, and yet the New York Mets are still winning baseball games.
Not only that, but they’re ahead of Monday night’s MLB action, the Mets hold a 3.5-game lead for first-place in the National League East — which was considered by many to be the toughest division in all of baseball heading into the 2021 season.
It hasn’t been anything near that, which is advantageous for a Mets team that has been without key contributors in Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis, Michael Conforto, Carlos Carrasco, and Noah Syndergaard — among others.
The Mets are the only team with a winning record in the NL East, sitting at 29-23 after an impressive four-game split with the San Diego Padres that was headlined by the invaluable pitching performances of two of their best arms in Jacob deGrom on Saturday and Marcus Stroman on Sunday.
While deGrom’s exploits have been well-documented, Stroman lowered his ERA to 2.40 on Sunday, which ranks 13th in all of baseball and third within his own pitching staff. Taijuan Walker ranks seventh in MLB with a 2.17 mark; 155 points higher than deGrom’s league-leading, sterling 0.62 ERA.
Meanwhile, the Mets are getting it done with guys like Jose Peraza, Billy McKinney, and Brandon Drury who were either an afterthought heading into the season or who weren’t even on the roster.
“What we have been doing is truly remarkable with having such prominent guys on the [injured list],” Stroman said. “To have these guys step in and dominate has been amazing to see. We can’t wait to get those guys back, but we’re extremely confident in the now. We know we can win with the guys that we do have out there.”
It’s also helping that Francisco Lindor is finding his stroke following a miserable start to the season. Over his last nine games, he’s slashing .359/.375/.641 with two home runs and four RBI.
“I’m very encouraged,” Lindor said. “I feel very good. I finally have some success on my side. Hopefully, I continue this to help the team win. Hopefully, we get some more W’s in this road trip.
“And when I get home, maybe I don’t get booed.”
The hottest bat of all, though, has belonged to catcher James McCann, who is batting .367 with four home runs and 11 RBI over his last eight games — including a two-run shot in the top of the eighth on Sunday to put the Mets out of sight, guaranteeing the series split in San Diego.
“It’s getting back to the thing I do well, sticking to my approach, and just trying to put a good swing on it,” McCann said of his hot streak.
With their stiffest test of the road trip out of the way, the Mets head to Baltimore for a two-game series against the last-place Orioles before returning home for another run-in with the Padres.