Limping out of Pittsburgh having lost three of four against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the New York Mets now find themselves seven full games out of first place. Coincidentally, seven is how many games the Mets have before the All-Star break against the Atlanta Braves, the NL East‘s current penthouse resident. If New York is to enter the second half of the season with any hope, a huge showing against the Braves is key.
The first three games begin in Atlanta starting Monday. The Mets will probably be without the services of David Wright, who’s nursing a left rotator cuff injury. The injury does not require surgery, but team doctors have prescribed rest for the Mets’ third baseman and team captain. That’s a huge disadvantage for the Mets. Even though Wright is in the middle of an off season, he has been hot of late, and can be the best hitter in the lineup when he’s right. Eric Campbell has been doing yeoman’s work in his stead, but it’s impossible to predict if the man known as “Soup” can keep it up.
The Mets’ offense as a whole has been schizophrenic over the past week. One minute they’re scoring double-digit runs in back-to-back games, the next, they’re stranding a ton of runners like they did earlier in the season.
Meanwhile, the Mets need a bounce-back performance from Zack Wheeler, who followed up the best start of his career with the worst start of his career. Right-hander Dillon Gee made a successful rehab start on Sunday, but he won’t be ready for the Braves series.
The Mets need to show they can step it up in big situations. The seven games they will play against the Braves before the All-Star break is the first potential turning point of the season. They’ll either rise to the occasion and stay in the NL East race, or they’ll fall to a position from which they may never come back.