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NY Mets News: NL East team Jim Duquette thinks could go on a run

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Jeff McNeil #6 of the New York Mets reacts after he hit an RBI double against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning of the second game of a double header at Citi Field on July 10, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 10: Jeff McNeil #6 of the New York Mets reacts after he hit an RBI double against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning of the second game of a double header at Citi Field on July 10, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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Jim Duquette has strong opinions and a resume to back them up. A former New York Mets general manager, I’m always interested to learn what he has to say about the Amazins and the rest of baseball.

According to him, there’s one team in the NL East the Mets should fear most. Can you take a guess who it is?

It’s the team in the division to win a championship most recently. In case you don’t recall who that is, it’s the Washington Nationals.

Should the Mets fear the Nationals?

The Nationals are going to finish the first half of 2021 in fourth place and a few games below .500. They’re about as close to the Miami Marlins as they are to the Mets and yet they are the squad Duquette believes could give the Mets the most trouble.

What has led to this belief? Well, after looking over what Duquette had to say, it seems to be more of a gut feeling than anything else.

The Nationals had a fantastic June, going 19-9. While they began to make up ground in the playoff picture, they have struggled of late. An injury the Kyle Schwarber is one reason for it. Schwarber had awakened in June and played a significant role in turning the season around. Mets fans saw this firsthand as he outslugged them in several games.

The Nationals certainly appear to have a pretty good team on paper. Their lineup is strong and their pitching staff still has Max Scherzer at the top. Without Stephen Strasburg for much of this season, Washington has faced its difficulties with other guys to take the mound. Patrick Corbin and Jon Lester have each underperformed. This may be the key difference between the Mets and Nationals: pitching.

A big reason why the Mets are waltzing into the second half leading the division is because of their strong pitching from top to bottom. Jacob deGrom leading the way, we have also seen significant and strong performances from multiple relief pitchers. It takes more than one Cy Young candidate to capture a division. The Mets, unlike the Nationals, are getting this.

The Nationals, Atlanta Braves, and Philadelphia Phillies are very similar teams and actually share a few things in common with the Mets. As fun as the season has been for the orange and blue, things haven’t been perfect. The season has included multiple big injuries, a plethora of underachievers, and lengthy streaks of no offense whatsoever.

This early lead the Mets have built to separate themselves from the rest of the flawed division does make their odds at winning the NL East much stronger. Everyone else is playing catchup—the worst game to play in sports.

Duquette doesn’t seem to believe Washington is guaranteed to make any sort of run at the playoffs; just that they are capable of it. Perhaps because they were able to accomplish something similar only two years ago, the believe remains they could do it all over again.

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The Mets shouldn’t fear the Nationals. Until they can show their pitching can be deadly, what’s to be afraid of?

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