Reinforcements are on the way, and just in time. June is a critical month in a baseball season. With the exception of the three or four best and worst teams – categories the Mets do not fit into – most teams are hovering too close to .500 to determine if they’ll be contenders or pretenders, buyers or sellers. By the end of June, it usually all shakes out.
Last year the Mets were 26-29 heading into June. A strong month could have put them over .500 and in contention. However, their dismal 11-17 June quickly diminished team confidence and eroded fan faith. Heading into a very winnable series at home against the struggling Marlins, this year the Mets should go into June at 29-22 (assuming 2 of 3 this weekend) with at least a solid hold on second place.
The June schedule includes 27 games, beginning with a 7-game West Coast trip against the underachieving Padres and pretty lousy Diamondbacks. Following an off day, the Mets return home for three each against the surging Giants and the surprisingly decent Braves. Then they have four games against the struggling Blue Jays in a home and away series, followed by three more against the Braves in Atlanta. Hopefully Freddie Freeman can be held to 10 hits or fewer in the two Braves’ series. Following a Monday off, the Mets conclude their road trip with three against the terrible Brewers. This might be a good chance for the GMs to share a drink at the bar and discuss available players as the Brew crew are sure to be sellers in July. The Mets finish out the month at Citi Field with a three-game series against the Reds, another Monday off and the first of three games against the Cubs.
Catcher Travis d’Arnaud was our hottest hitter before he got injured. Vic Black was one of our best set up men last year and Bobby Parnell is a year removed from being an effective closer. All three appear close to rejoining the team and should provide a big boost for this important upcoming stretch of games. d’Arnaud’s bat will bring a welcome boost to this struggling lineup and while the bullpen has miraculously held its own in spite of all the injuries, it can certainly make way for two veteran flame throwers.
If the Mets can go 16-11 in June, they will be sitting at about 45-33. That might not be enough to catch the surging Nationals, but twelve games over .500 should be enough to convince Sandy Alderson and ownership that we should go for it and make a run for a wild card. Even without Zach Wheeler, this team has eight quality starting. A six-man rotation with two ready top prospects languishing in triple A is not sustainable. Maybe we package a veteran with a player (Dillon Gee and Daniel Murphy) to land helpful bat or maybe we reluctantly part with one of the young guns find the missing piece to put us over the top. What that piece is might not be as apparent now as it will be by the end of June. Again, it’s a critical month.