The New York Mets have won eight of their last ten games, fueling optimism that they may finally be ready to end several years of mediocrity. While some remain understandably skeptical, there are many reasons why the Mets will continue to play well in the second half of the 2014 season.
First, batters who underperformed early in the season are playing much better baseball. Curtis Granderson had a .468 OPS with one home run in April. From May 1 until today, the right fielder has hit .274/.380/.498 with 13 bombs. He’s also on pace for roughly 100 walks, which are very useful in the leadoff spot. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud couldn’t buy a hit before being sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas in early June. Three weeks later, he was back in the Mets’ lineup. He’s been raking ever since to the tune of a .295/.338/.525 slash with three homers. And over the last couple of weeks, David Wright has also picked up the pace.
Perhaps more than anyone in the lineup, Wright is poised to bust out with a big second half. When Wright is hitting, the Mets’ lineup is a completely different animal. He’s 31, which isn’t that old, even in baseball terms. Most people consider a player’s prime to be between the ages of 27-33. And while he got off to a dull start, he’s looked stronger over the past two weeks, even with a bruised shoulder. David’s slash line on the season is now .285/.344/.421, creeping slowly up to his career norms of (approximately) .300/.400/.500. A productive Wright would be a huge help to New York.
In addition to the lineup, the Mets’ young starting pitchers are starting to figure it out. Jon Niese and Dillon Gee have matured into excellent starting pitchers, and each will come back healthy after the All-Star break. Zack Wheeler has put a few solid starts together in a row and is showing signs of having more consistent command and velocity. And Jacob deGrom has looked outstanding. Also, if Noah Syndergaard learns how to harness his stuff in Triple-A, he could make it to Queens to help the Mets by August.
The relief corps has been completely remade with young power arms like Vic Black, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia. All three have been outstanding, and one can predict they’ll all be closers someday if they keep it up. For now, they form a strong back end of the bullpen along with lefty Josh Edgin and veteran Carlos Torres.
For these reasons, the Mets appear to be trending upward. They’ll have a tough time making the playoffs no matter how well they play, since they dug themselves a pretty nice-sized hole in June, but it’s about time all the hope for the future starts to manifest itself on the field. If they have a winning second half, it will bode well for 2015.