Mets continue recent surge; New York finally claws above .500 with trouncing of Astros

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The New York Mets have had quite enough of your casual dismissals. On Friday night, the Queenslanders topped the visiting Astros 7-2, and in doing so, nudged their record to 40-39 for the 2024 season. 

That’s significant, because for much of the current campaign, the Mets have been a cautionary tale, an abject lesson on the hazards of payroll spending. In a way, that’s understandable. Last season, the Mets lost 87 games despite the highest payroll in MLB history. Those failures led to changes in the dugout and the front office. It also led owner Steve Cohen to invest a bit more modestly in the on-field product (albeit still more than everyone else). 

Yet, when the 2024 campaign opened, it didn’t seem like much had changed. As recently as June 2, the Mets were 11 games below .500 and on pace for 96 losses. Even though new president of baseball operations David Stearns positioned the 2024 season as one of transition, that qualified as a ringing failure. 

Since then, though, things have changed. 

On June 3, the Mets eked out an 8-7 win over the Nationals, and thus began a stretch in which they would win 16 of their next 20. That 16th win was Friday’s triumph over Houston, and the Mets are back above the waterline for the first time since they were 16-15 on May 2. More so, this puts manager Carlos Mendoza’s club only one game out of the third and final National League wild-card spot and just 1 ½ games out of the second spot. 

Yes, the NL this season is quite permissive when it comes to relevance in the wild-card standings, but contention is always relative. Speaking of which, when the Mets bottomed out on June 2, they had just a 7.9% chance of making the playoffs. Coming into Friday, however, SportsLine gave the Mets a 61.9% chance of earning a postseason bid, and that figure is a bit higher after the win over Houston. They’ve achieved that despite having played one of the ten toughest schedules in MLB to date. 

So how have the Mets flipped the script to such an extent? Over the last 20 games, they’ve batted .294/.370/.527 as a team. On the pitching side, the Mets have a 3.79 ERA in 178 innings since June 2. Most essentially, the Mets over that span have out-homered their opponents 37-19. 

The backdrop to all of this is how Stearns will treat his roster leading up to the July 30 trade deadline. While there’s plenty of schedule left for yet another plot twist, signs now point to hold or buy. The Mets have some rotation depth headed back their way, and that, theoretically, could be tapped into for trade purposes. However, this recent surge makes such a simple and obvious approach a bit too, well, simple and obvious. There’s plenty of time for those considerations, though. For now, the Mets will be content with mattering once again. 

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