How good are the Mets? Maybe THAT good
NEW YORK -- Traditionally, Memorial Day is a time for teams to take stock of themselves. The Mets have played 50 games at this point, nearly one-third of a season. It’s a large enough sample size to draw some inferences, if not yet conclusions.
• Inference No. 1: The Mets are a good team.
• Inference No. 2: The Mets may be a really, really good team.
It’s still too early to know the second part for certain, but the Mets continue providing evidence to that end. Their 13-5 win over the Nationals on Monday night at Citi Field left them with a 33-17 record and was thorough enough to be effectively over by the third inning.
At that point, the top three hitters in New York’s lineup were 8-for-8 with a home run, a walk, four RBIs and five runs scored. The rest of the night was merely icing as the Mets achieved their first four-game winning streak of the season.
“It’s fun to watch,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “It’s fun to be a part of it.”
Among the highlights were Starling Marte’s two-run homer to cap a four-run rally off Erick Fedde in the second inning, Lindor’s three hits in the first three innings and burgeoning cult hero Nick Plummer’s banner day ending a triple shy of the cycle. The Mets rapped out 16 hits, with five of their nine hitters reaching base safely at least three times.
That’s who the Mets are now. They may not always enjoy plum days like this, but they have enough angles of attack -- star players such as Lindor and Pete Alonso, who hit a late home run; role players such as Plummer, who has broken out over the past two days; injury fill-ins such as David Peterson and Colin Holderman, who pitched the majority of the innings -- to keep most teams uncomfortable.
It’s no surprise that entering the night, the Mets’ postseason probability had climbed to 93.1%, according to FanGraphs data.
While fans of the 2021 Mets may bristle at that inference, the truth is that the DNA of this club is clearly changed from last summer. Last year, the Mets never led the division by more than 5 1/2 games. This season, they’re already atop the NL East by 9 1/2. Their division lead is the biggest the Mets have ever held in May. With one day to go, they’ve already set a franchise record with 158 runs in the month, plating double digits on Monday for the sixth time this year.
In that fashion, the Mets have routinely constructed late rallies and erased deficits. They’ve developed a habit of falling behind only to roar right back, as they did in allowing three first-inning runs to the Nationals before scoring a dozen of their own before the game was halfway complete.
“Sometimes we like being down,” Marte said, “just so we can come back.”
Within individual games, that may well be the case. Within the context of the season, the Mets have found a more efficient route to success by building a significant lead that they simply must maintain.
They also understand that May is not a time for celebrating. When asked this weekend about using Memorial Day as a checkpoint for self-evaluation, manager Buck Showalter replied that “I think it’s a little early.” Then he clarified: “I think it’s a lot early.”
Still, it’s not too early to envision bigger, better, bolder things for a club that ranks atop the NL East in most meaningful statistical categories. That may not be a guarantee of October success, but it’s a pretty good recipe to reach the postseason. That is clearly where the Mets appear headed. That is clearly where they think they belong.
“As long as we understand that today’s today, tomorrow’s tomorrow, I think we’ll be fine,” Lindor said. “Nobody’s looking forward. Nobody’s looking to August, September. Everybody’s focused on what we have today. And, ultimately, that’s what matters. … The front office did a great job of hiring professional baseball players -- like, legit, professional baseball players. And when you have that, good things happen.”