By Bryan Zarpentine @BZarp on July 18, 2014
As the second half of the season gets underway, the New York Mets are five games under .500, which isn’t exactly where they’d like to be. However, they are far from out of contention after winning six of their last seven games and looking the part of a competitive team. Other than their recent hot streak, here are five reasons why there is hope for the Mets in the second half of the season.
At the start of the second half, the Mets are seven games back in both the NL East and the Wild Card. There's obviously a lot of teams to jump over, but seven games is far from insurmountable. After all, the Mets blew a seven-game lead in just 17 days back in 2007, so having nearly half a season to make up that deficit is certainly possible if the team can stay hot.
After so much experimentation and so much movement in the lineup, Terry Collins seems to have found one that works. Curtis Granderson leading off has worked fine, Lucas Duda looks comfortable in the cleanup spot and Travis d'Arnaud is hitting well enough to move up in the order. Everyone appears to be settling into their spot, which could lead to more consistent offensive production in the second half.
Based on their run differential, the Mets should be a .500 team, so theoretically, they should at least be .500 by season's end. Of course, considering all the one-run games the Mets have lost and that they appear to be getting better as a team, they'll have every chance to get themselves above .500 and put themselves in contention during the second half.
One of the Mets' biggest x-factors this season is their rookie catcher, and since coming back from AAA, d'Arnaud is finally coming around. Over the last couple of weeks, d'Arnaud has been a productive hitter and even been moved up in the lineup. If he can keep that up during the second half of the season, he gives the Mets more depth in their lineup, which can help them win games at a better rate than they did early in the season.
Any success the Mets have had this season starts with quality pitching, and that's likely to continue during the second half. The bullpen is in good shape and won't blow leads late in games like they did in April, while the starting rotation should continue to give the team quality starts. If the pitching staff holds up in the second half, the Mets will remain competitive and have a fighting chance to reach the postseason.
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