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Mets’ road trip and first month is a huge in-division test

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Apr 6, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets third baseman Wilmer Flores (4) celebrates with Mets right fielder Curtis Granderson (3) after hitting a two-run home run against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets third baseman Wilmer Flores (4) celebrates with Mets right fielder Curtis Granderson (3) after hitting a two-run home run against the Atlanta Braves during the sixth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
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With the Mets finally getting on the road after their six game home stand to start the season, their near and distant future is scattered with division rivals for the next month.

After the first week of play, New York was a combination of Maximus from Gladiator, and Fredo Corleone from The Godfather; dazzling pitching performances from Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey jumping back onto the scene with a bang, and the ineptitude from the offense for most of the week.

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Listen, it’s just the first week of a 162-game season. If anyone is jumping to conclusions already, maybe you should stop watching baseball. The thing everyone knows about the Mets is if their offense can consistently hit the ball, and hit with runners in scoring position, they have the pitching to be one of the top teams in the league. It’s more of a consistency thing for them, rather than a talent thing.

A big part of the offense not producing enough throughout the first week was Jose Reyes. With only one hit through his first 23 at-bats (.043 AVG), he is not setting the table enough. Reyes is at his best when he’s hitting the ball on the ground, utilizing his best attribute; his speed. Putting that little bit of doubt into the pitcher’s head if he’ll run or not, it allows the hitter to flow better. The faster he gets going, the better situation the entire lineup will be in.

With his first home run coming in his first start last night, Michael Conforto showed his fans why he should be playing every day. He’s young and off to a nice start, even though he has started the season as a bench player. Curtis Granderson, a notorious cold starter, is off to a good start for his own standards (4-20, .200 AVG, 2 RBIs). Also, with Jay Bruce playing very well offensively, he should be the everyday cleanup hitter, right behind Yoenis Cespedes. The best way to utilize Conforto is to platoon him with Granderson, whether it’s now or the distant future.

"“He applies himself, he does his routine as if he’s in the lineup every day. I like that. I like that attitude.” –Terry Collins"

With their first road game of the season tonight in Philadelphia, the first 32 games of the season will be against NL Eastern division teams. While we usually look at April as a month where teams try to find themselves and their own identity, this is a month that needs to have success. It’s very rare you look at teams who won a division, that did poorly playing against teams in their own division.

Last season, New York went 40-36 in the NL East, not even winning 10 games against the 68-win Atlanta Braves. They only won seven games against the division winning Washington Nationals, who won the division by eight games. Compare that to the Nationals going 51-25 in the division, collecting no less than 10 wins at a minimum against every team in the NL East. That’s a whopping 11 game swing, three games more than they won the division by last season.

Every season is different, and successes against teams change as the years do. But if the Mets want to reclaim the division title from their foes in the nation’s capital, they’ll have to take a page out of their book.

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Sitting at 3-3, .500, in the division so far, they’ll need to win around 50 games in the division to probably grab it. Is it possible? Of course. They have the arms to do it, they’ll just need a lot more consistency from their offense to get it done.

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