Before the start of the current season, the realistic Mets fan probably thought the best chance for the Mets to make the postseason would be via the wild card route, as Washington was a strong favorite to win the division. One factor that would have been expected to aid any wild card drive for the Mets would be that the Mets would playing 19 games against each of the other N. L. East teams, and all but the Nats had finished below .500 for the 2017 season. Thus the reasoning would have been that the Mets play relatively more games against presumably weaker teams than some of the other wild card contenders.
So far, in 2018, that scenario is not playing out. The N.L. East is actually the strongest division in the league, at least to this point of the season. Through the weekend, the East has six more wins than losses. The N.L Central has two more losses than wins, and the West has broken even so far. This also shows that the N. L., in aggregate, has won four more of the interleague games than the A.L. has.
Won-loss records are the best way of judging team performances, but run differential is also a good tool. The leading team in run differential in the league is Atlanta, with a plus 34 figure, and right on their tail are the surprising Phillies at plus 33, second in the league. The Mets, first in the standings in the East, are sixth in run differential for the league at plus 16. The Nats are tenth with a minus seven, and the woeful Marlins are last in the league (and all of MLB) with a minus 58 run differential. Please note all stats for this article are through Sunday, April 22.
Going forward, the Braves look like the real deal. They have a solid lineup lead by Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte, and Ryan Flaherty is leading the N. L. in batting, yet he was hitting eighth in the order against the Mets. The pitching staff looks good, Julio Teheran is pitching like the ace he is, hard throwing young lefty Sean Newcomb is improving. Matt Wisler was pulled out of AAA to start against the Mets, and he looked like the second coming of Greg Maddux.
The Phillies have had to overcome some notable rookie mistakes by their rookie manager, but they are on a roll now having swept a good Pirate team. Rhys Hoskins has an OPS of 1.098, and Aaron Nola may not throw 100 mph fastballs, but he is effective.
The Nats have underperformed so far, despite great starts for both Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer. Star third baseman Anthony Rendon has missed a lot of time due injury, and Mets killer Daniel Murphy has yet to play while recovering from 2017 surgery. The team is likely to be much better as the season moves along.
The Mets have played very well so far, but winning the division, or even finishing second, will not be a cakewalk.