Mets surge past Nationals for NL East Lead

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The New York Mets are in first place, and all is right with the world.

After getting swept in a three game series at home by the Chicago Cubs in early July, the Mets faced a tough five-week schedule, largely against teams in the playoff hunt. This included the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, and fierce division rivals Washington Nationals.

Many believed this month long stretch of games would break the Mets, squashing their playoff hopes.


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Fans are swooning over the ERAs of their three young pitching aces, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. DeGrom has the third best ERA in all of baseball with a 2.09 mark, Harvey is looking more and more like his 2013 pre-surgery self, posting a 2.76 ERA, while Syndergaard is a legitimate candidate for Rookie of the Year with a scintillating 2.66 ERA.

Their offense has exploded the past two weeks, scoring 5.9 runs per game, the second best mark in the league over that stretch. The team hit 19 home runs and has the fourth best OPS (On-base plus slugging percentage) with an .839 mark for the two weeks.

Leading the charge has been outfielder Curtis Granderson, a resurgent Lucas Duda, and the newly acquired outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

Granderson has three home runs and scored 11 runs in the leadoff spot, Duda has found his home run stroke again, smashing nine home runs while driving in 15 RBIs, and Cespedes (former Detroit Tiger) has driven in five RBIs in the five games he has been with the team.

Heading into the 2015 season, the Nationals weren’t just the favorites to win the NL East, but one of the heavy favorites to win the World Series. Injuries and underperformances have derailed those hopes, at least temporarily.

Left fielder Jayson Werth has played just 35 games so far this season, third baseman Anthony Rendon only 28 games. Shortstop Ian Desmond, along with starting pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez who have underperformed as well.

The Mets have also had their fair share of injuries and under performances this season. Star third baseman David Wright hasn’t played a game since April, catcher Travis d’Arnaud has missed a significant portion of the season thanks to two extended stints on the disabled list, and 2014 gold glove centerfielder Juan Lagares has regressed both offensively and defensively.

Reliever Jenrry Mejia was the Mets closer heading into 2015, after thriving in the role last year, but has been suspended twice for using performance-enhancing drugs.

What makes their rise even more impressive is the Mets have done all this with one of the worst offenses in baseball. They have the lowest batting average in the majors at .237, tied for the second lowest amount of runs scored with 390, second lowest on-base percentage at .301, and tied for the lowest OPS at .670.

Just three weeks ago, Mets fielded a team that included outfielders John Mayberry and Kirk Nieuwenhuis along with utility man Eric Campbell starting almost regularly.

Mayberry has since been released after hitting just .164 largely coming off the bench. Nieuwenhuis was actually traded by the Mets to the Anaheim Angels on May 27, and reacquired just ten days later. In 44 games for New York the outfielder is hitting for just a .188 average. Campbell meanwhile has played in 66 games hitting for a measly .179 average.

Things have improved since the Mets acquired infielder/outfielder Kelly Johnson and third baseman Juan Uribe from the Atlanta Braves. On July 24 the Mets traded two minor league players for Uribe and Johnson. Since then they are 9-2 and have won six games in a row, thanks to a dramatically revamped roster.

After the debacle of the failed trade of then Milwaukee Brewers centerfielder Carlos Gomez (Gomez was traded from the Brewers to the Mets, until New York backed out because of Gomez’s supposed bad hip) general manager Sandy Alderson turned around and traded for Yoenis Cespedes who has immediately made a big impact.

This combined with an already elite pitching staff that kept the team afloat during the rough stretch, has turned the tide in the Mets favor. During this current six game winning streak the Mets starting pitching lead by the trio of young power arms has been nearly untouchable.

Mets starters have tossed 43 2/3 innings, allowed just seven runs, and walked just two batters while striking out 42 batters.

New York and Washington play six more games against each other including the season finale October 2 to October 4. While Washington seems to be slumping currently, they have the capacity to turn around this recent slump. The race will only get better as the season comes to a close.

It’s nice to be relevant again. Even long suffering Mets fan Jon Stewart agrees. As long as the Mets continue to play like this Citi Field will be rocking.

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New York Mets
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