By Rich Coutinho
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The Mets are 55-55 after 110 games and as Bill Parcells would say, “You are what your record says you are.”
But the Mets’ case is a bit more complicated than that. They are on the cusp of the wild card race — seven behind the Braves in the loss column — and have actually leapfrogged over Florida, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in the past few months.
As of Friday, only St. Louis and Arizona stand between the Mets and the Braves. They have nine games left with Atlanta, including six at Citi Field in August. They play three of those games this weekend — and these are urgent times for the Mets.
A sweep would put the Mets four back in loss column (five in the standings since Atlanta has played two more games than the Mets), but two wins is an absolute necessity for this team. Falling further back in the standings could really end any wild card hopes.
From the Braves’ perspective, they are only 10-10 since the All Star break. The injury to Brian McCann has hurt their offense despite the addition of Michael Bourne. I have said all along that the Braves’ starting pitching might hit a wall — and to a certain extent it has as Jurrgens and Lowe have struggled in the past three weeks.
Their bullpen remains strong, and that simply means you must have the lead on this team once you enter the seventh inning. Fredi Gonzalez has shown no hesitance in using his big three bullpen hurlers (O’Flaherty, Venters, and Kimbrol) every single day. You wonder what overworking them will do to the Braves in the last two months of the season.
But back to The Mets. It’s clear that the losses of K-Rod and Beltran will hurt the team’s chances of catching the Braves. Anyone who thinks otherwise is clearly deluded — and disrespectful to the resumes of those two players. But this weekend is not about that at all.
The Mets have a chance here — a slim chance but nonetheless, a chance. They need to bring the energy to Citi that they bring on the road. They need to let Jose Reyes set the tone early by wreaking havoc on the bases. They need to take chances out there because if they play it straight, the Braves have too many bullets in their holster.
For the Mets fans, enjoy this weekend. Your team has fought through so much adversity just to make this series matter. And should they take two (or dare I say sweep), they will buy themselves a few more weeks in the hunt.
Should they get closer in that next couple of weeks, the anticipation of another Braves-Mets series later this month at Citi will intensify.
Sure, it is a long shot — but anything worth getting is worth trying for. The first giant step in showing both the Braves and the baseball world that the Mets belong in the playoff conversation begins this weekend.
Will the Mets make a statement against Atlanta? Make your prediction below…