Between rainouts, snow days and COVID delays, the first month of New York Mets baseball hasn’t gone quite as expected. Having played less games than any other team, the Mets have struggled to get into a proper rhythm early on. Whether their 9-11 record is merely a result of this or a true representation of the team’s skill level, there’s no denying that New York has to do better. Now, sitting near the bottom of the league, the Mets will have to really come into their own during their May schedule if they want to remain legitimate playoff contenders.
The Mets play 28 games in May, including 12 at home and 16 on the road. Out of the seven teams they play, only the Cardinals (14-12) and Diamondbacks (14-12) are over .500. Despite this, however, the Mets current .450 winning percentage still lags behind every team on this list except for the Marlins (.440, 11-14) and the Rockies (.346, 9-17).
Regarding inter-league play, in addition to three games at the Rays (13-14), the Mets also have a two-game set with the Orioles (12-14). Baltimore is actually playing better than many expected, most recently splitting a series against the Yankees. As a result, these games might be better than expected. The only thing that could make them even more exciting is if Matt Harvey makes an appearance.
Division wise, this will be the first time this year the Mets play the Braves. With three-straight division titles, Atlanta is New York’s greatest threat in the NL East. That said, the Braves are also off to an unexpectedly slow start (12-14). Still, with six games against their division rival this month, at the bare minimum the Mets will have to split the series in order to keep things competitive moving forward.
No Rest for the Weary
In a word, the Mets May schedule is best described as an endurance. Opening the month are be nine-straight games without an off day. Counting their game on April 30, that makes 10 straight.
Luckily, this Mets squad has already missed so many games that going through an extended period like this might actually do some good. If anything, it may finally allow the team to find its rhythm. Hopefully this consistency is all it takes to get Francisco Lindor and Michael Conforto hitting like their old selves again.
Just like in April, the Mets are kicking off May with a divisional showdown at in Philadelphia. Coming into these games, the Mets are 4-3 vs. the Phillies (13-13). Prior to Friday’s loss, New York won three straight against them, including a double-header sweep on April 13. Regaining this momentum over a staunch division foe is crucial to getting off on the right foot this month.
Following a couple of breaks in the middle of the month, the Mets close things out on another uninterrupted streak. Starting on May 21, they begin a 17 day stretch without a single break. Featuring 11 games this month and six in June, the team will need to be firing on all cylinders if it hopes to get through this stretch above .500.
Series to Watch
After the opening series in Philadelphia, the Mets have a few other key games to look out for.
Most notable are the aforementioned matchups against the Braves. The first three games will begin on the 17th, followed by the next three starting on the 28th. Getting out to an early series lead over the Braves is of the utmost importance. All together, the two teams will meet 19 times this season. Realistically, whoever comes out on top after these games will likely be the winner of the division. While splitting the series is fine, the goal should be to take at least four out of six. In terms of both morale and the standings, back-to-back series wins against Atlanta should position the Mets nicely heading into June.
The big x-factors in these Braves games will be the statuses of Mike Soroka and Carlos Carrasco. Last month, Atlanta’s ace was sidelined by a shoulder issue while recovering from his torn Achilles. Depending on how he recovers, there is a chance he is available during for at least one start. If he still pitches anything like the Cy Young candidate he used to be, well, let’s just hope that the Mets offense has found its footing by then.
Likewise, Carrasco figures to be back from the injured list sometime in May, giving the Mets their supposed no. 2 starter back. With Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker thriving behind Jacob deGrom, adding Carrasco to this rotation could theoretically give the Mets four aces. What better time to roll out this lineup than against their biggest competition.
Beyond this, another intriguing series is the three-game set in Miami starting on the 21st. While they’re undoubtedly better than most people think, the Marlins are still arguably the weakest team in the division. With the season series split 1-1, the Mets will have to really beat up on them starting in May if they want to pull ahead in the standings. Now that the Marlins sport one of the best pitching staffs in the league, however, this is easier said than done.
Above all, this month will be a sort of proving ground for the Mets. If they can recover from their rocky start and find their footing, they might just reemerge atop the NL East.
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