The New York Mets went 15-13 in the month of May and hold an overall record of 28-23 through the first two months of the 2012 season. As a reasonable Mets fan, I'll take both records.
The Mets, who were 23-28 after 51 games last season, sit only 1.5 games behind the National League East-leading Washington Nationals entering June. Last season, they started June 8.5 games out of first place. While the current standings are encouraging, the schedule is not going to get any easier for the Mets, who play 15 of 28 games on the road this month.
In June, New York will play the St. Louis Cardinals, Nationals, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays between June 1-14. In the second half of the month, the Mets face the Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, Yankees (again), Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cards, Orioles and Dodgers currently are in first place in their respective divisions. I wasn't kidding about the schedule.
Yes, it's a daunting month ahead, but the scrappy Mets can survive it. David Wright has proven he can carry the team for stretches and Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey give the team a strong 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. But it's going to come down to the performance of the bullpen. Mets relievers -- if you want to call them that -- have lost 12 games (one more than the starting staff) and have a combined earned run average of 5.39. Thus, the Mets have been outscored 92-76 from the seventh inning on this year.
"It is frustrating when you go out there and don't do your job," said Mets reliever Jon Rauch, who took the bullpen's latest loss on May 30 against the Phillies.
Ironically, the bullpen was supposed to be one of the team's strengths this season. General manager Sandy Alderson added Rauch, Ramon Ramirez and closer Frank Francisco in the offseason, but none of them have been reliable. Despite saving 14 games, Francisco has an ERA of 6.10 and Ramirez was torched by the Phillies for three runs without recording an out in his last appearance. So when will the bullpen get its act together?
June would be a good time to start.
Adam Martini is a freelance sportswriter who grew up in Queens, N.Y. with a view of Shea Stadium from his bedroom window. He spent many nights in the upper deck at Shea rooting for the Mets. You can follow him on Twitter @PegCitySports.