Mets' win in London shows 'green shoots'

June 11th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Anthony DiComo's Mets Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

LONDON -- Shortly after the Mets took the London Series finale from the Phillies, 6-5 in rather dramatic fashion on Sunday, Brandon Nimmo was asked if this, finally, might be the type of win -- big event, tough opponent, massive crowd, all sorts of energy -- that could spark the Mets out of their early-season doldrums.

Nimmo needed only a moment to dispute the notion.

“Well, but…” he began. “I mean, we just swept the Nationals, too. Have we been looking for a spark? Or are we just looking to build on things? My opinion, personally, we’re looking to continue to build. We’ve been playing much better baseball for the past two weeks.”

Nimmo credited his team with improved play as far back as May 16, when the Mets stole the final installment of a four-game home-and-home series with the Phillies. The reality is that the team continued struggling for a while longer, losing 10 of 12 before beginning to find more solid ground at the end of May. In three series against the Diamondbacks, Nationals and Phillies since that time, the Mets have gone 6-3.

It’s not the type of weeks-long tear the Mets will need if they ultimately wish to move up the National League standings, to avoid a Trade Deadline selloff and to qualify for the postseason. But it’s easily their best stretch of play since mid-April.

As owner Steve Cohen put it, “I’m starting to see green shoots.”

Much of Cohen’s press conference Sunday from London Stadium involved questions about the Trade Deadline -- specifically, reporters asking them and Cohen deflecting them. On multiple occasions, Cohen offered hints that he’d prefer to avoid another Max Scherzer-Justin Verlander-style selloff if possible. He said he wants to build a winning culture in Flushing, which is hard to do when a team ships away many of its best players. Cohen also questioned the return the Mets could get from dealing even their most tradeable chips -- think Pete Alonso, J.D. Martinez, Luis Severino et al.

“We’ve got a long way to go, and a lot can happen over a relatively short period of time,” the owner said. “We’re going to keep plugging. I think our schedule gets a little easier, and so there are opportunities to gain ground. We’ll see what happens.”

Consider that for all their issues, the Mets recrossed the Atlantic sitting merely three games out of a Wild Card spot. And when they return to Citi Field on Tuesday, they’ll open a stretch of four consecutive series against sub-.500 teams, beginning what -- according to the forecasting web site Tankathon -- is the third-easiest remaining schedule in MLB.

Outside of the last-place Marlins, who come to town first, none of these upcoming matchups are lopsided on paper: the Padres feature one of MLB’s most star-laden rosters, the Rangers are the defending World Series champions and the Cubs spent much of the early season in first place. But still, records are records. Each of those clubs has proven itself beatable.

Tack on the fact that the Mets activated their starting catcher (Francisco Alvarez) from the injured list on Tuesday and could have their closer (Edwin Díaz) back soon, and the situation quickly begins to look rosier.

“I still feel this team has got a good run in them,” Cohen said. “A lot of good players. I think the locker room is good, the culture is good. So, I’m hopeful.”