So it comes down to another Nats series with first place on the line versus the... New York Mets? What? Are they still winning ball games? There is a ton of luck involved in the Mets being this good. Their Pythagoras record is 26-28, but a 9-5 record in one-run games has helped keep the team on the winning side of the ledger more often than not.* Of course 26-28 is still better than we thought they'd be, especially given that every other team in the NL East is doing ok to great. So how are they doing even that? It comes down to one of those "everything goes right" seasons, at least offensively.
Here are the Mets performing as expected this year :
Here are the Mets performing better than expected this year :
Here are the Mets performing worst than expected this year :
Given that Johan has seemingly returned to form, and RA Dickey still is pitching well all you need to add to this is a "John Niese breaks through" and "The pen hold sdown its role" and it's pretty much the season a 12 year old super fan would predict in his head as he plans how he will get out of school for the Mets' ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes.
The above is how you can have a decent team even though you only have two reliable starters (though Miguel Batista has done well filling in) and a terrible bullpen. Add in a little luck and a year where no one team has managed to put everything together just yet and you find yourself with a chance to be alone in first place in June.
Of course a much better Nats team stands in their way. 4-2 was the goal. The rainout makes that impossible but it's still the baseline to work off of. 4-1 would be great, 3-2 passable, anything worse a major disappointment.
- I'm not going to talk about Ryan Zimmerman, because every time I do he immediately hits better and makes me look like a fool. (and because I'm not superstitious). He's good. He'll start hitting.
- Now Mike Morse on the other hand. Look, if you are expecting Morse to be Morse of last year, you are almost certainly going to be disappointed. If you are expecting Morse simply to be better than the junk that's been tossed out in the OF and make the Nats a better team, you should be fine. Just give it time.
- The gap between those hitting (Flores, Espinosa, Harper) and those not (Desmond, LaRoche, Zimm) is huge. Also - I expect we'll hear from those big Desmond backers in what? 3 weeks, when he has another hot streak?
- How many bad starts would it take to have the Nats clamoring for Detwiler? 3? 4? Let's hope we don't find out because 5th starter drama is not worth worrying about (and besides Lannan would be 4-3 with a 3.99 ERA and a 1.6 WHIP, driving people insane.)
- On the positive side outside of Gio's allowable bad game, and Wang's poor second start, the pitching is great. Starters great. Bullpen great. One good arm after another. If Davey hadn't handed the 4th best reliever the job fans care most about the complaints from the mound would be limited to - "the 5th starter hasn't been very good" and "the last guy out of the pen is pretty bad". That's it. It's embarrassing really - how good this pitching staff has been.