Maybe the Mets are baseball’s hottest team — New York is 14-4 over its last 18 games — because the Mets have the same ingredients that have defined successful teams for more than a century.
That is, a smart, resourceful front office, a tenacious manager and a bunch of players who’ve kept competing and have focused on what they have instead of what they don’t.
Who saw this coming? When the Mets were swept by the D-backs at home last month, things seemed to be coming undone.
After a 9-0 loss on Aug. 11, manager Terry Collins had an epic postgame rant in which he questioned his players’ effort, respect for the game and desire.
“I don’t care who is not here,” Collins said. “There are no excuses here.”
Collins unsatisfied with effort
ARI@NYM: Collins vents frustration after latest loss
Mets manager Terry Collins expresses his frustration with his struggling lineup after a 9-0 loss at home to the D-backs
And then something strange happened. Right after Collins challenged his players, everything changed.
The Mets started winning. And winning. And winning some more. Injuries? Yeah, they had some. Big deal.
In three weeks, they’ve made up 4 1/2 games in the standings and moved into a tie with the Cardinals in the race for the National League’s second Wild Card berth. And the Mets have the easiest remaining schedule — based on opponents’ record — among the contenders.
Wasn’t it in the second half of last season when when the Mets got hot and ended up in the World Series? There could be some of that magic in the air. At the moment, they’re a team without a weakness. Their staff ERA is the second best in baseball (3.11) during the club’s past 18 games. The Mets’ offense is scoring more than five runs a game.
Resilience? They’ve come from behind to win in six of their last nine victories. They’ve hit 27 home runs in the last 13 games, including three Wednesday afternoon in a 6-3 victory over the Reds.
Recap: NYM 6, CIN 3
9/7/16: Mets complete sweep of Reds in 6-3 victory
Daily Recap: Jose Reyes, Curtis Granderson and Wilmer Flores powered the offense with homers and Noah Syndergaard earned his 13th victory
So ride the wave, boys.
Here’s what has this sweet little story bordering on the stuff they make movies about. If the Mets somehow get back into the postseason, it’ll be something they’ll remember forever.
The Mets haven’t just suffered an injury or two. They’ve suffered franchise-rattling injuries, the kinds that expose holes in the roster and tests the resolve of an entire organization.
And the Mets entered the stretch run without starters Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom, first baseman Lucas Duda and outfielder Juan Lagares. Center fielder Yoenis Cespedes and third baseman Jose Reyes both spent time on the disabled list in August.
As a result, the Mets have used 45 players, including 10 starting pitchers. Collins has started eight different third basemen, eight different left fielders.
Remember how Alderson built the Mets around young pitching? Remember how he stubbornly held onto that pitching, believing it would be the foundation for everything he was hoping to do?
That young pitching powered the Mets to the World Series last season. Guess what? More young pitching is powering the Mets in this run.
Despite not having Harvey, Matz and deGrom at the moment, the Mets’ rotation has been baseball’s best during the turnaround: 10-4, 2.81 ERA.
“We had different names on the backs of those young pitchers’ [jerseys],” Collins said. “Those young guys we had last year came up and really, really pitched well that last month. We’ve got a couple new ones, but they’re pitching very, very well for us.”
Some of the names are familiar. Right-hander Bartolo Colon — he’s baseball’s oldest player at 43, but who’s counting? — is 3-0 with a 2.39 ERA during the club’s 18-game stretch. Right-hander Noah Syndergaard has also been solid, going 3-1 with a 1.00 ERA in that span.
Cespedes is working his magic for a second straight summer. The Mets are 13-3 since his return from the DL, and he has six home runs and 12 RBIs.
Cespedes’ RBI double
NYM@CIN: Cespedes rips an RBI double to left
Yoenis Cespedes laces an RBI double past Eugenio Suarez to give the Mets a 6-3 lead in the top of the 9th inning
Four of his last five home runs have come in the seventh inning or later, and three of them have given the Mets a lead. Right fielder Curtis Granderson has five home runs in his last eight games, and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has driven in 15 runs in 18 games.
In other words, everyone, from the top of the order to the back of the bullpen, is contributing. Speaking of the back of that bullpen, closer Jeurys Familia has established himself as one of the NL’s best. He hasn’t allowed an earned run since Aug. 13 and has made good on 47 of 50 save chances.
Now the Mets may be catching a break with the schedule. They haven’t given up on getting Matz, deGrom and Duda back before the end of the season. For the moment, though, what they’ve got is working just fine.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Source: Mets News / Mets seem poised for another Amazin’ run