The opening two months of the 2017 Major League Baseball season has been a nightmare for the New York Mets. This is common knowledge.
Injuries, inconsistencies and a dash of drama have created the perfect recipe of underachieving for a franchise that was expected to challenge for the National League pennant.
It’s created a sizeable deficit in the National League East as the Mets are attempting to cut down a Washington Nationals divisional lead that sits at an intimidating 9.5 games.
But for the first time since April, things are actually trending up in Queens.
Yoenis Cespedes and Steven Matz made exceptional returns over the weekend against the Atlanta Braves. Cespedes slugged a ninth-inning grand slam during the first game of a Saturday doubleheader while Matz allowed one run on five hits over seven innings in the nightcap.
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They got further good news in the form of Seth Lugo pitching a gem in his season debut on Sunday.
There are still some noticeable absentees as the Mets are still trudging along without ace Noah Syndergaard and closer Jeurys Familia, but this is the most healthy the Mets have been since the season began.
Just in time, too.
To put things bluntly, New York’s upcoming schedule will not be kind to them.
The Mets are currently in the midst of a schedule in which they will play 18 games in 17 days. Four are in the books after their weekend series in Atlanta.
They return to Citi Field on Monday night for a three-game series against the defending-champion Chicago Cubs, a team that has been a shell of its former self and is coming off a series in which dropped 3-of-4 to the surging Colorado Rockies.
Despite their difficult start that sees them toeing the .500 line, Chicago is still a team stacked with offensive firepower that can’t be taken lightly.
If the Mets can come out of relatively unscathed, their reward is a four-game set against the Nationals, which could make or break their season. A sweep gets them right back into the divisional race while a trip up could all but end their postseason hopes.
It doesn't end there, either. The Mets have to get on a plane as soon as their series against Washington ends to play the very next night in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, who have one of the best records in the National League.
Any sort of swoon spells the end of the Mets season and it doesn’t matter if three months of the season remains.
So, no pressure.