Matt Harvey has been brilliant this season
The New York Mets have long since lost hope of being in the National League wild-card race, but they can still play spoiler for other teams in the playoff chase.
As they plod their way through the dog days of August, the Mets continue to play hard for manager Terry Collins. They certainly do not appear to be phoning anything in, which is always a concern when a team is effectively out of the playoff picture.
The Mets should relish the role of spoiler as they head into the final six weeks of the season. With that being said, let's take a look at three reasons why the Mets can still play spoiler down the stretch drive of the 2013 campaign.
Ike Davis is starting to bounce back
It's been a long, long road for Ike Davis this season but it looks like the Arizona State product is finally coming out of his doldrums.
Since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on July 5, Davis is hitting .292 (31 for 106) with three home runs and 13 runs batted in. While the power numbers may not be overly impressive, Davis' on-base percentage is.
The 26-year-old Davis owns a .477 OBP since the All-Star Game at Citi Field. Not only has he become more selective at the plate but he is hitting the ball where it's pitched and using the whole field much better than he did earlier in the season.
There finally appears to be some light at the end of a very long tunnel.
"If he gets hot, we're a different lineup, even without (David Wright)," manager Terry Collins said of Davis via Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.
Marlon Byrd has had a season to remember
It's hard to believe now that the Mets signed the 35-year-old outfielder to a minor league contract this past winter with an invitation to spring training, but it's true. That seems like a long time ago and Byrd has made the most of his golden opportunity with New York.
If he can continue on this magic carpet ride of a season, the Mets could be a thorn in the side of any playoff hopeful the rest of the way.
How good has the 12-year veteran been? Byrd has belted a career-high 21 home runs and is ranked fifth in the National League with a .527 slugging percentage. He leads the Mets in home runs, runs batted in, slugging percentage and is hitting .287 in the process—eight points above his career average.
On top of that Byrd has played a steady right field this season and has seven outfield assists to his credit. With all respect to David Wright, Byrd is New York's offensive MVP this year.
He's been one of the biggest surprises in baseball this season and the Mets are reaping the rewards.
Zack Wheeler has 17 strikeouts in his last two starts
The Mets have the makings of a formidable starting pitching staff with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese and the rejuvenated Dillon Gee leading the way. A talented rotation like that can give a team bidding for the playoffs a lot of grief down the stretch.
The Mets currently rank sixth in the National League with a 3.70 ERA. Harvey leads the way, of course, and is a viable Cy Young candidate with a 9-4 record and a stellar 2.25 ERA (second in the NL). He also leads the senior circuit with 187 strikeouts.
Wheeler's command issues seem to have been straightened out as he's walked just four batters in his last three games. He's now 6-2 with a 3.49 ERA following Tuesday's victory over the Braves.
Niese (5-6, 4.25 ERA) appears healthy again after going on the disabled list with shoulder pain on June 21. He pitched very well in his last outing against San Diego, striking out nine Padres and allowing just one run in six innings of work.
Gee (9-8, 3.60 ERA) has been brilliant since late May, posting a 2.27 ERA since that time—the third-best mark in the league behind Jose Fernandez and Clayton Kershaw. On top of that the Cleburne, Texas native has completed six innings or more in each of his last 10 starts.
Add it all up and the Mets will be a formidable opponent for every club they play the rest of the way.