A week ago today the Mets held a 9.5-game lead over the Nationals and we were talking about magic numbers. There were columns, including those written here, suggesting Matt Harvey’s limitations weren’t a big concern because the Mets opened a huge gap in the NL East and the Nationals were floundering.
After Sunday night’s disaster in Flushing the Mets’ lead is six games with 13 games remaining. Three of those games are with Washington the final weekend of the season.
Despite growing anxiousness, I don’t see the Mets coughing up their lead, regardless of Harvey’s innings situation, and here’s why:
1. It’s hard to believe the Mets will have another collapse like 2007, or even 2008. Three dramatic collapses in less than ten years is almost impossible to comprehend. I mean, what are the odds? History won’t repeat itself.
2. There are a core of veterans that are real leaders who won’t let it happen. David Wright, Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson are veterans with a clue. You can add Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson to the list.
3. The Mets folded in 2007 because of their bullpen, but despite what happened Sunday, it is significantly better this year. Jeurys Familia is a dominating closer, and if Tyler Clippard gets over his back problems, the 2015 back end is much better. Addison Reed is a plus.
4. Yoenis Cespedes is in a dreadful slump. Better to get that out of the way now. If he can turn it on again it will work wonders with the offense.
6. Bartolo Colon seems oblivious to pressure. He’s been strong this month and I don’t see signs of him letting up.
7. With the exception of the final weekend, the schedule is working in the Mets’ favor.
9. The 2007 team had chemistry issues and there were a segment of players not happy with then-manager Willie Randolph. Plus, the front office wasn’t behind Randolph, evidenced by assistant general manager Tony Bernazard spying in the clubhouse. There’s a disconnect between manager Terry Collins and GM Sandy Alderson, the players generally like and respect Collins. They haven’t quit on him. There are no dogs or cancers on this team.
10. While there’s a sense of anxiousness, these Mets have played too good for so long for there to be another free-fall into winter.
None of this is to suggest the Mets don’t have issues. They do, and I’ll get to them later this week, but for now just relax as this season will be over soon enough, and in a good way.