The New York Mets have had questions they needed to answer since the beginning of the 2022 season.
Following a shoulder injury to Jacob deGrom in the final week of spring training the initial inquiry was “who is going to be the opening day starter?”
But for the first time in six years, every one of the questions that were hurled the Mets’ way came with an answer underlined with a degree of hope and optimism. The anticipation for a successful season began with Tylor Megill’s sterling first outing of the season against the Nationals on April 7 and the lofty ambitions continued all the way until the end of the season despite injuries to Max Scherzer, Starling Marte and Trevor May, among others, along the way.
This season’s Mets team changed the narrative of the past. With 94 wins and 13 games still to go, the Mets clinched their postseason berth since 2016 with a 7-2 victory against the Brewers on Monday night at American Family Field in Milwaukee.
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Throughout the season, the Mets uncovered a sense of belief under Buck Showalter that carried them to this point. Whether it was a big deficit or big injury, the Mets found a way to rise up.
Early on, the Mets proved they were not going to go down without a fight in any game. It began with a two-out five-run rally against the Cardinals on the road and continued with dramatic six-run, ninth-inning comeback against the Phillies on May 5.
The Mets won their first seven series and did not drop a series in their first 10. With a six-game win streak between late May and early June, the Mets built up a 10.5-game lead in the National League East.
Since the offseason when Steve Cohen opened up his wallet and new general manager Billy Eppler went out and added Scherzer, Marte, Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar and Chris Bassitt, something seemed different.
But there is a difference between a quality lineup on paper and the product on the field.
There has been grit.
Francisco Lindor has played in all but one game this season despite being hit up and in and suffering a cracked tooth in the opening series and later fracturing his middle finger after jamming it in a hotel door before the opening game of a series with the Dodgers in early June.
Lindor has bounced back to deliver the type of season that Mets fans had been hoping for when he signed a $341 million megadeal before the 2021 season. He has hit 24 home runs, driven in a career high 95 runs and scored 89 times. And after a rocky debut season in New York, Lindor has endeared himself to the fan base along the way.
There has been power, with Pete Alonso continue to build his strong Mets legacy with 36 home runs and a National League-leading 118 RBI.
And there have been unsung heroes, whether it was the brilliance of Edwin Diaz, bounce-back year from All-Star Jeff McNeil, dynamic glove skills of Luis Guillorme, lift from David Peterson or chameleon role of Trevor Williams as a starter or reliever.
The Mets have proven they belong in the conversation among the heavyweights in Major League Baseball. They won a season series against the Dodgers, swept the Yankees in a two-game series at home and dominated the competition inside National League East.
That has led the Mets to earn a shot in October.
Now, there is just one last quest for the Mets to achieve during the regular season and that is holding off the Braves for the NL East crown. It would be the Mets’ first division title since 2015 when they went on to reach the World Series.
While the Mets have been dynamic and dominant throughout the season, they have been unable to shake free of the defending World Series champions. The Braves rattled off 15 out of 17 victories in August and opened September on an eight-game win streak to take their first lead in the division.
The Braves have had their own breakthrough successes in 2022, whether it be the fireballing excellence of rookie Spencer Strider, developing stardom of Austin Riley or steady contributions from Dansby Swanson and newcomer Matt Olson.
The Mets have managed to bounce back and take a one-game lead in the division. The decision on who will come out on top in the NL East is bound to come down to the final week when the two teams square off for a three-game series at Truist Park in Atlanta.
It seems that Buck Showalter has lined up the rotation to have Bassitt, deGrom and Scherzer on the mound for the biggest series of the season.
The Mets have had a flare for the dramatic all season long. One last celebration by regular’s season’s end would probably be the most dramatic in MLB.