As the calendar changes from May to June, the Mets find themselves a half game behind the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East. They have managed to stay at or near the top of the division despite the fact that the Mets have become the walking wounded. In 2006, it was the month of June that propelled the Mets into the runaway train that dominated the division. The Mets must find a way to look back at that performance three years ago if they want to spring ahead in the division race this year.
Although the Mets had a fast start in 2006, becoming the first team to have a seven-game lead in the division in the month of April, they seemed to coast through May. By the time early June came around, their lead had shrunk to three and a half games and the Phillies were knocking on the door to first place. That’s when the Mets took off, scoring in the first inning in what seemed like every game. By the time June was over, the Mets had a 12-game lead in the NL East and never looked back. The 2009 Mets now have a chance to take over first place and start building on that lead.
The Phillies begin the month of June on the West Coast, taking on the San Diego Padres for three games followed by a four-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, or as I like to call them, the team with the best record in baseball. At the same time, the Mets will be playing four games in Pittsburgh and three games in Washington, or as I like to call them, the team with the worst record in baseball. The Mets swept both of these teams at Citi Field in the past three weeks. If the Mets are going to follow the example set by the 2006 Mets, this is the week to do it.
Jose Reyes is set to return from the disabled list by the end of this week. He will be needed to set the table so that the Mets can score early and often. This formula was instrumental in the Mets hot streak in June 2006. Once they scored in the first inning, their pitchers took over, never letting the opposition feel like they had a chance to come back from the early deficit. This year’s Mets can do the same thing. Their starting pitchers have made quite a turnaround from their gloomy April. There was a time that every starter not named Johan Santana had an ERA over 7.00. That is clearly not the case now. Over his last seven starts, John Maine is 5-1 with a 2.36 ERA. In the same seven-start stretch, Mike Pelfrey is 3-1 with a 2.96 ERA. Even Livan Hernandez was impressive in May, going 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA.
A combination of scoring early and often along with the continued success of the starting pitchers could produce a similar result this June to what the 2006 team did. Also, the further the Mets get into the season, the healthier they should become. The recent loss of Brett Myers leaves a gaping hole in the Phillies’ rotation. For now, they are filling Myers’ spot in the rotation with Antonio Bastardo. All signs are pointing to this being the time that the Mets can make their run in the division similar to 2006. After a hot month of May for the Mets, a June swoon is not an option. It all begins in Pittsburgh. It’s time for our boys to step it up like we know they can!