The 10 Reasons the Mets' Surge Ends in NL East Title, Not Broken Hearts
When Chris Iannetta hit a tenth-inning homer off of Jenrry Mejia to seal a 6-5 win for the Rockies and a fourth straight loss for the Mets, Flushing fans were conceding the season all over the Internet.
On April 14.
The Mets split the next four games to sit at 4-8 on April 18. They had lost the first four series of the year.
Fifteen days later, the Mets are in first place. They just finished their best homestand in 20 years. They swept the Dodgers for the first time since 1995.
Everything gloomy two weeks ago suddenly shines. And there's plenty of proof to show that this recent run can last all the way through September.
Every solid pitching staff has a long man that fills in the gaps. Jerry Manuel appears to have found his guy in this import.
Takahashi has 21 strikeouts in 14.1 innings thus far and has bailed out Oliver Perez and John Maine over the last week to turn losses into wins.
Alfredo Aceves was this guy for the Yanks last year. He could fill a spot start, but he's got a live arm to fill any need.
Takahashi will be the unsung hero of this division title run.
The Big Deadline Deal: Beltran's Back
The Mets are doing all this, and they still have an ace in the hole.
Carlos Beltran is still not ready to run on the repaired right knee yet, but he is making progress.
His post-All Star break return is going to be like pulling off a deadline trade. He has 15 homers in him down the stretch, just when the Mets will need a boost.
The Bullpen is Legit
The Mets have the third-best bullpen in baseball right now.
K-Rod has lived up to his billing, but the Mets actually have guys to get him the ball now and let him do his job.
Pedro Feliciano has a 0.84 ERA, Jenrry Mejia has looked unhittable at times as he finds his confidence. Raul Valdes has shown he has a solid inning in him.
It all adds up to a bullpen that can deliver three innings when needed. It's a large part of why the Mets have only given up 13 runs in this seven-game winning streak.
Mike Pelfrey is Pitching Like Greg Maddux
This is the promise that Mets fans have been gushing about for years now.
The 26-year-old 2005 first-rounder is looking like a bona fide No. 2 starter these days.
Dare we say "ace"?
He is 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA and 19 Ks. His control has been masterful. He's thrown 24 scoreless innings.
More importantly, he's pitching deeper into games and giving the bullpen some down time. That's going to pay dividends come September.
Pelfrey has arrived. April is no fluke. He'll continue proving it this weekend in Philly.
Jason Bay Hasn't Started Raking Yet
He's off to a slow start in Flushing, but don't worry about Jason Bay.
The .269, one-homer start is a mirage, not a trend. The Mets are 9-1 with him still finding his way.
In addition, he had a homer and a triple Tuesday in the doubleheader sweep.
There are already signs of life. He is a legit 3 or 4 hitter. By the time the playoffs roll around, he'll be sporting 25 homers and 105 RBI.
The Phillies' Rotation is Full of Holes
Once you get past Doc Halladay, it's tough to find guaranteed wins from this Phillies pitching staff.
Their spark from last year, J.A. Happ, is hurt. Cole Hamels looks mighty ordinary. Jamie Moyer is finally looking old, and Kyle Kendrick looks ready for a trip to Triple-A.
Once you get past Halladay, every other Philadelphia starter's ERA is over 5.00. Will that last? Likely not, but there's just no dependable innings to make you think it's going to get much better for Philly.
A deadline deal is all that could save this mess.
Jose Reyes is Getting Healthy
The Mets' shortstop faced some odd medical issues in spring training, but he is hitting .280 over his last seven games.
He's starting to run again. He's starting to show some flair again.
Get that cockiness at full steam and the numbers to go along with it, and the Mets' offense is only going to improve.
Add in David Wright and Jeff Francoeur for your clutch hits, and you have an offense that can deliver four to five runs a night.
Thank You, Parity
You can't pencil in 15-4 in those 19 games against Washington anymore. The Nats are looking like a pest thus far. They're lacking a division-title mix, but they have youth delivering clutch hits, and Strasburg isn't even in town yet (though after his five-inning no-no the other night, it won't be long).
The Marlins are as pesky as ever. The Braves have plenty of talent, but they're lacking chemistry and have too many veterans on the verge of breaking down. The whole "win it for Bobby" theme is going to keep them around until mid-September.
While everyone is busy splitting games, the Mets will be taking series against division foes. That's going to get them to Omar Minaya's magical 90-win prediction.
Two Words: Ike Davis
It might just be a coincidence that all this magic started when the first baseman of the future got called up.
Still, facts are facts. Davis is hitting .355 with a .432 OBP to go with a homer a six RBI. The Mets' run began when he arrived.
The energy and the needed offensive adrenaline has been clutch for the Mets. If Angel Pagan can find his way, the Mets will have power and speed from their prospects this year.
Davis has done nothing thus far to show he can't build on this 10-day stretch to the tune of 20 homers and 70 RBI.
The Players Want to Win for Jerry
He's a players' manager. Players know the next guy won't be.
Jerry Manuel needs to get over a hump as much as his team does. He shows sparks of genius. He makes all the right moves in a Joe Torre-circa-1996 kind of way. He can motivate the veterans, and he knows how to fit the rookie energy into the mix.
I watch how this team responds to him, and it feels like Terry Francona circa 2004. Nobody remembers he was on quite the hot seat in Boston throughout that year. Now, two World Series later, he pretty much has a lifetime contract.
Manuel is at the core of this energy that's feeding the renaissance. The Mets aren't just in this division now. They will win it by six games.