Cancel the Mets season, they're 1 game out of a playoff spot despite the struggles

New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds
New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

The New York Mets haven’t looked good this season and yet they enter their series on Friday against the Washington Nationals only one game out of a playoff spot. Yes, they trail the Atlanta Braves by a mile. With the third wild card spot shared by the 19-19 Miami Marlins and San Diego Padres, the 18-20 Mets are far from ready to wave the white flag.

We can thank a couple of factors for the Mets playing so miserably and yet having a playoff berth within reach. The more balanced schedule has exposed the National League further as the weaker of the two leagues. The American League East and American League West have a combined 8 teams over .500 at the moment. No division in the National League has more than two teams with a winning record at the moment.

You’d think the Mets season was over. You’d think the misery of the last two weeks was the coffin shutting on their chances.

The Mets need to play with urgency before the concerns become a reality

The National League East may not be a possibility this year. What good did it do the Braves last season anyway? The dogfight of the 162 game schedule is only 38 games through for the Mets and most other teams. There is time to climb. There are opportunities to fall.

Why, if the Mets are so close to possession of a playoff spot, do we feel so lousy? It’s about expectations. The Mets aren’t coming close to meeting what the highest payroll in MLB history should.

Early warning signs for the Mets are there for a reason

An 18-20 stretch in June and July is different from one from the beginning of the season to the middle of May. A hot start followed by slightly below .500 baseball is acceptable. It’s the unknown of what’s next for the Mets that should have us looking at those early warning signs. The Mets haven’t been the victim of bad luck, a bad bullpen, or a tough schedule. Many of their recent losses have been feeble attempts. Even their two most recent victories with scores of 1-0 and 2-1 barely registered hope.

It’s obvious why fans aren’t paying attention to the standings. The Mets have played much worse than their record says they are. An excellent 10-9 record versus teams at .500 or better should translate into more wins. It hasn’t.

The Mets don’t hit well or have a starting rotation anyone can trust at the moment. It’s not a matter of lacking talent. The issue with this ball club is underperformance from star players. Fears of Max Scherzer being a fraction of his former self. An epically slow start out of Francisco Lindor. So many other players on this ball club are not even having an average year. It’s these guys, the ones they cannot change, giving us the impression they’re much further away from the postseason than they actually are.

Being close is still not being there. Showing up to the bar next to the place where your kid’s birthday party is taking place doesn’t count. Right now, the Mets are getting hammered while talking about the good old days. They’re on the same street as the contenders. It’s time the Mets start behaving like those neighbors.