With MLB’s Summer classic less than a week away, there is no better time than the present to evaluate the state of the 2014 New York Mets and their potential second half. While Spring hopes are eternal, most teams see their playoff chances whither and die in the late Summer heat.
Year after year, the Mets have been no exception. This current roster, however, does have three very important factors going for them that could culminate in a possible playoff berth; division rival’s play, second half schedule and the return of Matt Harvey.
First, to say that no one is running away with the N.L. East would be a major understatement. The Washington Nationals hold a slim one game lead over the Atlanta Braves. The same Braves team that has lost three of the first four in their current series to the Mets. The Miami Marlins are six out with our Mets eight behind and the Philadelphia Phillies sitting in last by ten games.
This is a division that the Mets can win. Atlanta, like the Mets have had issues scoring runs and holding leads at various points in the season. The Nationals are playing well but have shown a tendency to be streaky. They, too, are beatable. The Marlins are young and injured while the Phillies are old and injured. Neither team is capable of making a serious run to overtake the leaders. However, the Mets are.
Their current win streak and solid play in recent games has proved they can win against good teams. That confidence can go a long way in the dog days of August and even further down the September home stretch. If the young players continue to gel with the veterans as they have in recent weeks, the second half could be special.
Next, the Mets face an accommodating schedule. As the first half closes against the Marlins, the second half picks up with a ten game road trip with stops in San Diego, Seattle and Milwaukee, before returning home to face Philly and closing out July. Seattle and Milwaukee can be tough but when factoring in San Diego and Philly, all four series are winnable.
August will see the San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs traveling to Queens, along with multiple divisional games against Washington and Philly both at home and away. Then, the team goes far away. As in the West Coast, to face the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A’s.
While it seems that these are tougher opponents, the Mets can win the divisional games and play .500 or better against the West. A sweep of the Cubs wouldn’t be out of question at that point in the season either.
As September rolls around, it all will come down to divisional play. The Mets face Washington and Miami six times each and Atlanta three times with the Colorado Rockies at home and the always tough Cincinnati Reds away squeezed in there too. To top it off, the Mets host the Houston Astros to close the season out.
These are all winnable games depending entirely upon which Mets team shows up at that point. Will it be the ones that have fizzled out in seasons passed under Terry Collins or will we see a renewed energy injected into this roster with the infusion of the current youth movement?
There is one final, major factor, an x-factor, if you will. His name is Matt Harvey. The 2013 All Star Game starter is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is slated to be potentially throwing again by the end of July and with ill-advised eyes on returning at some point in September.
The addition of Harvey, if healthy and pitching to form, is the equivalent of any trade deadline deal GM Sandy Alderson could make. Though it is very likely the team could derail that plan, Harvey seems determined and ahead of schedule at this point in his recovery and keeping him off the mound in meaningful September games may be much more of a challenge to Terry Collins and the Mets,
If he is successful, he could add that final boost of momentum that the team needs to propel them into October. Even without Harvey, the Mets are seemingly aligning themselves for a major run this season, if they play their cards right.