Erik Bacharach: Traditionally, I’ve tempered my expectations with the New York Mets heading into each new season. This year, there were no expectations to temper. While the Mets’ 2012 pitching staff is somewhere near respectable and their lineup does have some bright spots, they are in arguably the toughest division in baseball. Realistically speaking, any Mets fan should be thrilled with a fourth-place finish in the National League East.
Megan Brockett: Yet, somehow, the Mets shot out of the gate with a 4-0 start, one win shy of a franchise best, and currently find themselves sitting in second place in the NL East. Don’t laugh. Yes, it’s only April, and yes, they’ve played only 12 games. But in the first glimpse they’ve given us, the Mets have shown a spark that just hasn’t been there in the last few seasons. How long do you think they can continue their winning ways?
Erik: For the Mets to continue winning in this division, their pitching has got to be lights out. In all but one of their seven wins so far this season, the Mets have limited their opponents to three runs or less. That’s what it’s going to take if this team wants to stay in contention late into the summer. While the Mets have posted an impressive 3.77 team ERA so far this season, the jury is still out on Johan Santana and the bottom of their rotation has just too many question marks to warrant any sort of confidence in their long-term success chances.
Megan: I agree, the Mets rotation will have to remain consistent — something it’s struggled to do in the past — if the team has any hope of contending. But, you touched on the heart of the matter with Santana. The question remains what it has always been for the New York Mets, at least over the last five years — will they be able to stay healthy? Mets fans had to cringe with a pain worse than Andres Torres himself when the starting center fielder went down on Opening Day, seeming to point to more of the same, an injury-riddled 2012 that was doomed before it had even really begun. But Torres’ replacement has done just fine, and while David Wright and Johan Santana have both battled question marks regarding injury early on, the Mets have found bright spots in unexpected places, ready to fill in. And even more important was Wright’s statement on his first pitch back after breaking his pinky, a long home run to help New York beat the Phillies in spite of his injury. If Mets fans are ready to move past all the injuries, so is Wright.
Erik: Injuries aside, this team will still have to overachieve in order to be relevant in September, or even in July. Lucas Duda and Ike Davis will both have to hit around 25 home runs and bat .275. Ruben Tejada will have to keep his on-base percentage high to set the table. I’m done expecting anything good out of Jason Bay, but hopefully he can post at least a .260 batting average with 15 home runs, although that may be wishful thinking at this point. Their lineup will have to play to its full potential if it wants to compete with the dangerous starting pitching in the NL East this season.
Megan: Duda and Davis are set to have good years, posting power numbers that could surprise some people. Daniel Murphy has given glimpses of real potential at the plate in years past, and if he stays healthy, this year will be his first real shot to showcase his bat on an everyday basis. And as for Bay, he’s certainly long overdue. The pieces are all there if you go looking for them, why can’t this be the year for them to fall into place? Ya gotta believe, right?