News today of Chipper Jones heading to the DL got me to thinking. Dangerous, I know.
What is going to have to happen for the Mets to actually catch the Braves in the second half of the season?
First and foremost, the Mets are going to have to play better at home. A lot has been said about how this current group genuinely enjoys being together, and it has been suggested this is a reason why they play well on the road. Somehow they have to figure out how to bottle that attitude when they are at Citi Field.
Larry going down for a few weeks is certainly an added bonus for the Mets. However, their offense is not Atlanta’s strength, as they are 17th in the majors in runs scored and 26th in terms of team average (the Mets are tenth and a surprising fifth respectively).
More importantly, Jair Jurrjens or Tommy Hanson will need to cool off a bit. They are a formidable pair at the top of the Braves rotation and Jurrjens has been absolutely lights out this season.
The Mets are going to have to take advantage of their nine remaining head to head games, all of which are in August and September. The Amazin’s have proven they are capable of beating the Braves with wins in the last two series.
One would also think that the Mets will catch a break in terms of at least two of the four stars that are currently injured (Wright, Reyes, Davis, and Santana) and they can provide significant second half reinforcements.
Terry Collins will have to continue to out manage Fredi Gonzalez. It has been a long time since we have been able to say this, but the Mets have a better skipper at the helm then their division rivals. Fredi Gonzalez has the tendency to make some head scratching in-game decisions.
I may regret saying this, but I fully expect the Mets to exceed expectations in the second half. Don’t take that statement out of context, I am not saying they will be in the post season. I just believe they will not collapse and will continue to compete every series.
There is a different feel to this team. They have established they can hit for average, play solid defense, and throw out a quality start every night. More importantly, they seem to be enjoying themselves each night.
Regardless of what transpires, I am grateful that I am writing about chasing a playoff slot rather than discussing 2012 and beyond.