After 0-5 start, Mets flipped switch -- and the script

April 18th, 2024

Every single year we tell ourselves how long the baseball season is, and how short a time it takes for the narrative to flip. And every single year, once Opening Day rolls around, we forget, before a bunch of teams remind us in March and April. One of those teams is the Mets, who started out 0-5 and were about to go to 0-6 at Citi Field against the Tigers in the second game of a doubleheader and have been as hot as any team in the game since.

Pete Alonso tied that April 4 game against the Tigers with a ninth inning home run before Tyrone Taylor won it with an RBI single. Since April 4, the Mets have gone 10-3 and are now two games over .500. Only the Royals have won as many in that period. Since April 5, the Mets, Royals and Braves have the best records in the Major Leagues. Dan Steele of the Elias Sports Bureau points out the Mets are now just one of five teams in history to start a season 0-5 or worse, then win 10 of their next 13 games.

Long season. The Mets started out 0-5, the Yankees started out 5-0. Since then, the Yankees are 8-6. The Dodgers, whom the 10-8 Mets are about to face this weekend at Dodger Stadium, have lost one more game so far than the Mets have. The Rangers, who won the World Series, are 10-9. The D-backs, who won the NL pennant, are 9-10. And after that difficult beginning under new manager Carlos Mendoza, who held his team together, the Mets found themselves in third place, just a half-game behind the Phillies in the National League East.

Could the story change again, and fast, once the Mets go up against the Dodgers? Of course. But if there is one thing we have found out so far, it's that the Mets, who got knocked down harder than anybody by the first week of April, have been tough enough to get back up. As they have -- even with one of their stars, Francisco Lindor, still only hitting .151 -- they have seen one player after another not just get up, but step up.

On Wednesday afternoon, as the Mets were in the process of sweeping a Pirates team that had come into Citi Field with a record of 11-5, Joey Wendle came off the bench to produce an opposite-field double to left as the Mets were coming back again.

“It seems like every night it’s somebody different for this team,” Wendle said after that game.

And Taylor, who new Mets head of baseball operations David Stearns effectively brought with him to New York from the Brewers to be a fourth outfielder for Mendoza, has continued to be much more than that as the Mets have gotten hot. Taylor, 30, played 81 games for the Brewers last season and hit 10 home runs. Now he is hitting .341 for the Mets. On Wednesday afternoon, he got three more hits and knocked in two more runs and the Mets won, 9-1.

“I see a good hitter at the plate,” Mendoza said of Taylor.

Everybody sees that with Taylor these days. But for the Mets, on their way to face Yoshinobu Yamamoto on Friday night in the first game of their series with the Dodgers, the biggest headline out of the last game of the Pirates series was the pitching of ex-Yankee Luis Severino. Severino not only pitched six innings for the first time as a Met, he didn’t give up an earned run and lowered his ERA to 2.14. In a season when the Mets relievers -- once again led by Edwin Díaz -- have so often carried the team, this time Severino carried them.

“It’s important for the starters to provide some length,” Mendoza said after the game. “It’s important that starters give us some wins because it’s a long season and we have to protect the guys back there.”

The truly long season was last year for the Mets, who came into it with such high expectations (not to mention the highest payroll in baseball history) after winning 101 games in 2022. They proceeded to win just 75 games, trading Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander and seemingly everybody except Mr. Met at the Trade Deadline.

Now Stearns is in charge and Mendoza is in the dugout and it was all going to be a new beginning, with lower expectations this time. Then in the first week of the season, they couldn’t get a win. Swept by the Brewers. About to be swept by the Tigers before Alonso, still the team’s beating heart, really did begin to change the story with one big swing of the bat.

Worst record in baseball after a week. One of the best since. The Mets even went to Atlanta and took two of three from the Braves. Now come three games against the Dodgers, three more against the Giants. The owner of the team, Steve Cohen, said at the start of the season that he thought the Mets were going to surprise people. So far they have, in more ways than one.