ST. LOUIS -- Asked on Sunday morning to categorize the first half of the Mets' season, manager Terry Collins first chuckled.
"Well, pretty much the record speaks for itself," said Collins, whose club is 39-47 after losing to the Cardinals, 6-0, in Sunday's first-half finale. "No matter if you said, 'Geez, we played without a lot of big pieces.' We are not happy with where we are, certainly, so we've got to use this time to reassess what we've got to do in the second half and hopefully we start getting some of the pieces back."
What do the Mets have to do in the second half?
"Win," Collins said. "Win."
Specifically, what do they have to do?
"We have to pitch," he said. "For me, it starts with the guys on the mound. We started to get our guys back obviously with Matzy [Steven Matz] back, [Seth Lugo] back. I don't have any idea when Harv [Matt Harvey] or [Noah Syndergaard] are going to be back, but we have to get our starting pitching to where they are getting us, like they have been, getting us deep into games and giving us opportunities to win some ballgames.
"In order for us to get back in the race, we have to start playing complete baseball. We can't just ride one or two guys. We have to get the entire lineup swinging the bats. We have to get some leads."
The Mets hobble into the All-Star break with key players like David Wright (cervical disc herniation), Syndergaard (right lat tear), Harvey (stress injury in right shoulder), Neil Walker (partial tear of left hamstring) and Jeurys Familia (blood clot in right arm) on the disabled list.
Of that group, only Walker and Familia appear close to returning. Walker has gone to Florida to begin rehabbing. Familia will start throwing this week.
"We came out of Spring Training with arguably the best rotation in baseball and never got to see it in action," Collins said. "That certainly has been probably the biggest disappointment as we head into the break."
How can this Mets team, which went 10-14 in April, 13-14 in May and 14-14 in June, go on the kind of run that will get them back in contention in the National League East?
"If you want to talk about what we saw the last few months, I'll go back to what we saw in the last 12 months," Collins said. "We saw a team, last year, that when they were challenged they rose up. So I think it's in their DNA that they can do it again. We'll find out."