The Mets went on an incredible, near-unbelievable run, but it had to end at some point. And the fact that they hit a wall this past weekend against the Braves is not a surprise, according to an NL talent evaluator.
"They looked to be out of gas, which had to happen eventually," he told me.
About a month and a half ago, the Mets were 40-51 and just five losses away from having a worse record than the Marlins. The team then went 27-9 to bring themselves within 1.5 games of the final NL Wild Card spot.
This past weekend, however, they were stopped cold in their tracks and suffered a three-game sweep by the Braves, who have been in first place for the past 86 days.
"I hate to break it to you, but the Braves are pretty good," the source said to me with a hint of sarcasm.
Furthermore, he added, getting swept by a dominant team late in the season does not have to be the first nail in the season's coffin. Instead, it has the potential to reinvigorate a young, hungry team like the Mets.
"You have to run out of gas at some point," the NL source said. "It's impossible for a young lineup like they have to keep up that type of success for an entire half of a season."
"Losing sucks and I'm sure they're pissed at themselves," he continued, adding that getting swept by the Braves "was hopefully a blast of cold water to their faces, a wake up call, kind of like a new call to arms to regain focus and begin a new fight."
In other words, the key to this season may be in how the Mets respond these next three days against the Cubs, against whom they are trailing by 2.0 games for the second Wild Card spot.
"If the Mets are the team they believe they are they will be able to brush off the past weekend and get right back to work against the Cubs," the NL talent evaluator said. "To come back with a series win indicates they believe and have character. To keep losing, it probably means they never should have been among the winners in the first place."
I appreciate his chilling, honest wisdom, but he's also being a tad dramatic.
The fact is, the Mets could drop all three games this week to the Cubs and -- because of just the rotation alone -- win 12 of their next 16 against the Phillies, Nationals and Diamondbacks. As the old adage goes, "Momentum is as good as the next day's starting pitcher." And -- if you haven't noticed -- the Mets have some pretty good starting pitchers, most of whom have experience pitching in a high-stress pennant race.
I'm not going to deny it, though. It worried me a bit seeing the Mets stuck in mud this past weekend. Of course, as a life-long fan, I'm wired to see every loss as end of the season. But, for whatever reason, entering play on Tuesday against the Cubs, I'm confident that Mickey Callaway and Co. will soon return to their winning ways.
I was skeptical most of the summer. However, given the way they had been winning and the teams they were beating, I truly feel the past three days will prove to be the splash of cold water, as the NL evaluator put it.
This is not the beginning of the end. Instead, to me, it feels like the quiet, motionless moment between taxi and takeoff before the jet switches gears, throws fire from the engine, pushes you back in your seat and roars with power out into October.
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!