August 3, 2012
The Mets started the second half of the season following the All Star break with a slump that would take a huge blow to their playoff chances. They lost 11 of 12 games following the break going from six games over .500 to four games under .500. Terry Collins squad was just a half game out of the NL Wild Card and just 4.5 games behind the surging Nationals at the All Star break. Just two weeks later following the horrific slump, the Mets dropped to 6.5 games back in the NL Wild Card and a whopping 11.5 games back in the NL East. The slump demoralized the team not only in the standings, but in the clubhouse. Following the 11th loss out of 12 against the Nationals ending the Mets six game homestand, Terry Collins vowed that we would see the play that we saw in the first half from the Mets.
Matt Harvey started the turnaround with his excellent Major League debut in Arizona. The Mets would lose the next two games to the Diamondbacks, but would take the last game of the four series getting back on the winning track. R.A. Dickey won the last game in Arizona stopping the bleeding as he has done all season for this Mets team that showed a lot of resiliency in the first half of the season. New York would go on and take three out of four games from the first place Giants in San Francisco. It seems as if the Mets got some of their swagger back on this road trip. We saw the Mets bats come alive and get the two out production that we saw in the first half. Despite leaving a small army of men on base in the win Wednesday night in San Francisco, the team gutted out a win after a tremendous outing from southpaw Jon Niese. It was a bright spot as well seeing Bobby Parnell retire the side in order for the save. The Mets saw their pitching get back to what helped them win in the first half. While winning four of their last five, the Mets starting pitching avoided them falling behind early and often. The Mets got to see Matt Harvey have another successful outing in his second start. Although he got the loss in the outing, Harvey looked terrific only allowing two earned runs while striking out seven.
The Mets looked like a different team in San Francisco going back to their old winning ways using starting pitching and clutch hitting to get them back on track. While they still trail by 8.5 games in the Wild Card and 11 in the division, they still have 56 games to go and help is on the way. Closer Frank Francisco returns to the team from the disabled list tonight and will be inserted right back into his closer role. The Mets welcome back Francisco with wide open arms as their bullpen has been an absolute disaster since he went down with injury. Parnell struggled in the closer’s role and the rest of the bullpen had trouble getting the ball to Parnell as well. Now Parnell can go back to where he thrived as the setup man and Francisco can get back to closing games out. The Mets also have more good news on the way as Johan Santana is on the way back. Santana is slated to return to the rotation next week when the Mets return home against the Marlins. If Santana can return to his first half ways before his recent struggles before heading to the disabled list, the Mets might just have a little bit of hope left.
The return of Santana also may allow the Mets to go to a four man rotation with R.A. Dickey pitching on three days rest. A possible rotation of Dickey, Santana, Niese, and Harvey with Chris Young making spot starts could work out successfully for a Mets team that has plenty of games against their division foes in the last eight weeks of the season. The Mets play the Braves nine more times and the Nationals six more times. While things turned ugly following the All Star break, the Mets have started to write the ship and slowly are trying to get back in a pennant race. The return of Francisco and Santana, and maybe a couple of September call ups will try and get the Mets playing relevant baseball at Citi Field in September for the first time.