Did the Mets keep alive their season with victories over the Cubs the last two days? The Brandon Nimmo game Thursday was what they desperately needed. The home run barrage Friday was an April flashback.
Both games featured Nimmo’s youthful exuberance, and an argument can be made he gave the Mets an emotional jumpstart.
Despite their June Swoon, which included getting swept in Washington, the Mets are six games behind the Nationals, and 1.5 games behind the Dodgers for the second wild card. It means the essence of their season remains, which is getting into October.
June was a duplicate of May, with a dismal hitting slump and myriad of injuries culminating in a 12-15 record.
For the second straight month, it has to go to the only player to show up big offensively, which would be Yoenis Cespedes, who hit .315 with nine homers, 27 RBI and .374 on-base percentage. Cespedes had several brain cramp moments and played with a sore wrist. Oh yeah, one of those homers reached the upper deck at Citi Field. When he crossed the plate he said, “Wow,’’ which was the best way to describe the blast that brought back memories of Tommie Agee’s upper deck drive at Shea Stadium.
PITCHER OF THE MONTH
Noah Syndergaard won three games, but I’m leaning toward closer Jeurys Familia, who saved ten games with a 0.69 ERA. In 13 games he gave up one run on seven hits with 14 strikeouts. He also gave up seven hits and walked six making every appearance an adventure.
KEY GAME OF THE MONTH
There was the June 8, 6-5 extra-innings victory in Pittsburgh that avoided a four-game series sweep. However, I’m going with Thursday night’s 4-3 stunner over the Cubs featuring Nimmo’s game-tying hit and hustle on the bases to score the winning run. Had they lost it would have meant a five-game losing streak.
KEY MOVE OF THE MONTH
I’m going with bringing up Nimmo and sending down Michael Conforto. I’m hoping we’ll see Conforto back in July, but not at the cost of sending down Nimmo, who, if he keeps this up has to stay up. It could make for an interesting decision.
RED FLAG ENDURED
After losing David Wright for the remainder of the season, Wilmer Flores filled the breach hitting .289 with two homers and 12 RBI. The Mets are gambling Jose Reyes will further resolve their third base issue.
KEY ISSUE RESOLVED
The Mets traded for James Loney to replace Lucas Duda at the end of May. While Loney has more than capably done the job defensively, his offense has been surprising with a .294 average, three homers, ten RBI and .345 on-base percentage for the month. Loney had 30 hits and only three hitless games for June.
Syndergaard and Steven Matz are dealing with bone spurs in their elbow. … Wright will be gone for the rest of the season following surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. … Duda is still at least three weeks away. … Travis d’Arnaud came off the disabled list (shoulder) and his throwing has improved. … Cespedes had several nagging issues, Curtis Granderson has a strained calf and Conforto played with a bum wrist. … Juan Lagares is expected to be activated from the DL for Saturday’s game. … Reliever Jim Henderson is out indefinitely with a strained elbow.
SIX QUESTIONS RAISED
How will they play for the rest of the month, which includes two games against the Cubs, three with Miami and four against the Nationals?
Will the Mets make a deal at the deadline?
How long will they be without Duda and what is the severity of Granderson’s injury?
Since elbow injuries are always serious, will Matz and Syndergaard stay in the rotation?
How long will the ride last with Loney and Nimmo?
After three strong starts, Matt Harvey seems to have regressed. Who is the real Harvey?
BY THE NUMBERS
3: Runs scored by the Mets for Jacob deGrom in five June starts. He was 0-3 with two no-decisions for the month.
16: Games in which the Mets scored three runs or less. Overall, they are 11-30 when they score three runs or less.
.214: Neil Walker’s average for June.
5: Victories by a starting pitcher for the month.
8: One-run games.
11: Roster moves for the month.
4: Times shut out.
LOOKING AT JULY’S SCHEDULE
So far, the Mets are 2-3 during the 14-game stretch to the All-Star break. The rest of the Cubs series (2 games), and series against the Marlins (3) and Nationals (4) could determine whether they make a move at the deadline and stay in the race.
The Mets will come out of the All-Star break with nine on the road, three each at Philadelphia, the Cubs and Marlins.
The Mets close out the month with three games at home with St. Louis and four against Colorado.
Unquestionably, July could define their season.