The Mets have lost 8 of their last 10 games. They're 17-20, have won just one of their last 10 series, and currently sit 4.5 games back of the first-place Phillies. However, they're also about to get 16 straight games against teams below .500, 10 of which will be in their home ballpark.
"What we're doing right now is not acceptable," manager Mickey Callaway said after Wednesday's loss in San Diego. "We have to do better. We can't all of a sudden score a few runs one game and everything is OK. We have to continue to do it."
Thankfully, Callaway's team will play the Marlins next, who have the league's worst record. Then it's the Nationals, who may be the league's most disappointing team, the Marlins and Nats again, and finishing off with the Tigers.
Strength of schedule in NL East
This is most likely happening as a result of the Mets having played 24 of their last 28 games against teams with a winning record. They are also returning from a cross-country, three-city road trip. Similarly, five of the 10 teams to face the Braves are currently above .500.
Meanwhile, the Nationals have played four teams below .500, and the Phillies have played six teams below .500, while facing just two with a winning record.
In other words, it makes some sense that the NL East standings look the way they do...
The point is, though it's a cliche to say it, there is still a lot of season yet to be played, and plenty of time for the division to flip around.
"I think overall they have the most well-rounded club in the NL East," an American League scout recently told MLB.com. However, a second AL scout sees the Mets in a different light.
"I'd be most concerned about their defense, especially their infield defense over the course of the season," the scout said. "We also haven't seen what they can do offensively."
In the Mets, though, much like the Braves and Nationals, I still see a team (and a lot of players) that look like two talented, fast athletes struggling to run a three-legged race.
- Amed Rosario has been great on difficult plays, but terrible on routine plays.
- Brandon Nimmo has looked great in center field, where he struggled in 2018, when he looked great at the plate. But this year, he looks terrible at the plate and great in the field.
- Michael Conforto is striking out an alarming rate, but also on pace for a 3.5 WAR season.
- Jacob deGrom was great, then he was not, then he was injured, and now he's not.
- Steven Matz started off strong, but is now on the IL
- Noah Syndergaard is throwing harder and striking out more batters than last season, but has had five bad starts and just two good starts.
- Zack Wheeler looked great in his last five starts, but got torched in his first two outings (both against the Nationals).
- Veteran relievers Jeurys Familia and Justin Wilson - who were both heralded as awesome free-agent acquisitions - have both spent time on the disabled list and underperformed when active. On the other hand, Drew Gagnon, who started the season in Triple-A, currently has the third-most WAR in the bullpen, yet he has pitched in just five games.
To overcome the competition, they'll have to get all of their legs in sync, especially during the next two weeks. If they can win several games more than they lose by early June, April and May will simply look like a time used to get their ducks in a row...
In addition to their coming schedule, the roster, lineup and clubhouse will be helped by the return of Jed Lowrie, who will get some more at-bats in Syracuse before returning on Friday, as was originally expected.
Lowrie, 35, who had a .353 OBP and 63 extra-base hits last season, is known in baseball for being a versatile, positive, win-at-all-cost player that should inject a fresh face and voice when he returns. He'll also provide a much-needed left-handed bat.
Callaway said Wednesday that Lowrie will hit second and play multiple infield positions, though I expect him to play a lot of third base given Todd Frazier has two hits in his last 30 at-bats.
Mets 2B Robinson Cano has hope for the season, as well...
"Great teams go through this kind of situation, always," the veteran second baseman told the NY Post's Ken Davidoff. "I remember in 2009 (with the Yankees), we started 14-15, we won five games, and then we were in first place. We've just got to keep grinding."
In Cano's defense, though the past two seasons ended badly despite each having hot starts, 2015 and 2016 each ended well after bad starts.
It's known around baseball that organizations begin taking stock of their season upon returning home after Memorial Day weekend, which this year is the last weekend in May.
To fulfill Cano's prophecy, his teammates and coaching staff have no choice but to take advantage of these next 16 games. There is a significant difference between being, say, 28-26 instead of 24-31 on June 1, and just a few weeks before teams need to decide if they're buyers, sellers and able to contend for the postseason.
The Mets said they'd be a postseason team. We're about to find out if they were right...
Random, anonymous notes, based on talks with insiders during the past week...
In the event the Mets fall out of contention and become sellers, they're going to see a lot of interest in reliever Robert Gsellman, who tossed two scoreless innings Wednesday to lower his ERA to 2.88.
Conforto is building a reputation around the league as a player that constantly moans and groans at pitchers and umpires about strikes. In his defense, though, he's currently among the league leaders in strikes called against him that landed outside the zone.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!