I am going to start this article off by adding the disclaimer that we are still only five games into the season. However, the Mets have gotten off to a quick 3-2 start. The team has looked good with the exception of Mike Pelfrey.
It is already obvious that this is a different Mets team than the one we saw last year. Last year’s incarnation of the team would have just laid down and rolled over once they were down 7-0 to the Phillies. But not this team and not this year. The Mets showed the fight they did not display last year. They fought back and showed that they are going to be a tough team to beat this season. Yes, they lost the game, but they proved that this year could be different.
Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey both put in great outings against the Marlins. In his first start for the Mets, Chris Young was fantastic. It is possible to argue that these three pitchers are the key to the Mets success. They will likely be the back end of the rotation once Johan Santana returns.
The team does have questions however. Mike Pelfrey’s first two start reminded us of the issues he has had in the past and why he may never be more than a number three starter at best. Willie Harris has been hot this week, but there is no way that he is a solution in left field. With the uncertainty surrounding Jason Bay’s injury, this could become a problem.
It is not as if the other contenders in the National League East are without issues of their own.
The Phillies have the best rotation in the game, but have issues offensively. Chase Utley’s knee problems could linger on and significantly hurt the team. Placido Polanco is likely not the answer at third base for the Phillies. The Phils also have issues of their own in the outfield. Dominic Brown is on the disabled list and Ben Francisco is just a replacement.
The Mets have an opportunity to really set the mood for their season with this series. It may not seem like much, but winning the series against the Phillies while shorthanded would have to be a huge confidence booster.
If this team can manage to be at least two or three games above .500 when Johan Santana comes back in late June or early July, they could become a force to be reckoned with. They have the makings of a playoff team if everything comes together.
Later in the season, both Chris Young and Chris Capuano in their first full year back from surgery should be getting stronger. Carlos Beltran should finally (hopefully) be healthy. Jose Reyes is in a contract year so it would be foolish not to expect good numbers from him.
The Mets have the ability to be a playoff team this year and possibly even win the NL East this year. If they win the serious against the Phillies, this will serve as a great early momentum builder. They have the ability to begin to set the table for that run right here.