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Mets must take advantage of the wide-open National League

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: Manager Mickey Callaway #36 of the New York Mets during their game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Citi Field on May 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: Manager Mickey Callaway #36 of the New York Mets during their game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Citi Field on May 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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The National League is wide-open for anyone who wants it. The New York Mets have to take advantage.

The 2018 MLB season features one of the weaker National Leagues we’ve seen in a long time. Often behind the American League, the disparity looks greater than ever this season. Unfortunately, the New York Mets haven’t taken advantage of it.

The fact that the teams we expected to jump ahead of their opponents in the standings have all struggled should have benefited the Mets. However, their own problems have gotten in the way.

Yes, the Mets have dealt with injuries. They also had some distractions during the Matt Harvey saga. This still doesn’t excuse how they have let a great opportunity pass them by. Worst of all, it’s happening in a year when you can see the window shutting.

The Metropolitans are battling to stay above .500. Since the 11-1 start, they have played far worse than an average team. They are losing to bottom barrel squads and putting together inept performances on a regular basis.

We have to wonder, which version of the 2018 team is the real one?

As easy as it would be to rip the Mets for playing so poorly, they are still very much alive. They can thank the better teams in the National League for this.

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The biggest challenge is within the division. The fact that the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies have shown their readiness to competive is frightening. When the year began, it looked like both were at least one year away from making any significant run. Through the first month and a half, it’s clear they have some early fight in them.

There’s also the Washington Nationals to consider. In the beginning, they looked like the obvious choice to win the division. Clearly, they aren’t as ahead of everyone else as many believed.

Outside of the National League East, other “top” teams are underperforming. Most notably, the Los Angeles Dodgers have looked dreadful at times. The National League Central is beating each other up, further adding to a wide-open league.

After 44 games, the Mets sit in fourth place. They are 3.5 behind Atlanta at the top but only one out of the second Wild Card spot. Considering the sometimes unwatchable May baseball they put together early, it’s a relief to see the postseason still within reach.

I credit the front office for making the moves that they have. Trading Harvey and bringing in Devin Mesoraco has changed the locker room culture. It’s too early to say what the addition of Jose Bautista will do. Hopefully, it only helps and does not hurt the team.

Plenty of games remain on the schedule with two more months to decide whether or not they’re deadline buyers or sellers. Giving up this soon would be a mistake. The National League is not unbeatable and the Mets need to figure out a way to take advantage.

Next: Mets must move on from Zack Wheeler this offseason

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