It’s probably safe to assume that the Mets hitters’ meetings weren’t always the most joyful occasions earlier in the season. Sure, there’s plenty of levity to be had with this crew, and a good amount of self-assurance, but struggling to put up runs game after game while watching the pitching carry the heft of the workload can’t be all that fun, no matter how many Donnie Stevenson jokes Pete Alonso makes.
But something seemingly has changed in this second half, though it’s still too early to tell if it’s permanent, and that might just be best reflected by those same hitters’ meetings.
"Different guys on the team have been standing up in the hitters’ meetings, just saying something about who we are as a team, what’s our identity as a team and I think that’s given the guys some perspective," Luis Rojas said after the Mets 7-0 drubbing of the Reds on Wednesday. "These guys are going to hit. They trust each other, they believe in each other, they see it happening right now, so it’s good to see. Everyone has got to keep that consistency going so we back up our pitchers."
Perspective, consistency, support – all very good things and all things the Mets certainly will have to master if they’re both going to dominate a weak division and put together a significant run in the playoffs. And these last six games have been a good start. They went from averaging 3.72 runs per game in the first half, to 6.67 runs in this span. They hit 11 home runs over three games in the bandbox that is Great American Ballpark, including three on Wednesday. They’re getting production up and down the lineup, with the longball and otherwise.
But there are two caveats in there – one, that it’s a minuscule sample size, and two, that the Mets really can't afford for this to be any sort of fluke.
Marcus Stroman was brilliant Wednesday, but because of injuries, their rotation is a constant assortment of little-known minor leaguers, bullpen arms, and their most popular pitcher, "TBD." Zack Scott is no doubt assiduously looking for extra help in that area, and some should be expected to come by the July 30 trade deadline, but the Mets can’t continue coasting on their pitching as they did in the first half. For one, Jacob deGrom’s season has been plagued by injury, and taking some stress off of him down the stretch could be pivotal. For another, good teams are well-balanced teams, and ones that can beat you in a slew of different ways.
But give the Mets this, they’re convinced this is the start of something big, and something they can sustain.
"As an offense, we know it’s a long year," said Dominic Smith, who contributed with a third-inning grand slam. "We’re going to go through our ups and downs, but we just stayed consistent with our routines and preparation and just tried to chip away every day. We knew we’d eventually break through and everybody [would be] swinging well. We try to come out, take it one pitch at a time, put up runs and help our pitchers out because they picked us up all year."
Rojas said he was heartened by the fact that it's not just one person doing it. It's especially helped that they were able to welcome back sparkplugs in Brandon Nimmo and J.D. Davis, he added.
"We talked about this offense that it was going to click and for us, it’s clicking right now," Rojas said. "Guys are going to rotate and contribute for this offense…The connection with the hitters that we have is going to create runs for us [in a way] that we haven’t had this season consistently."
He said all that with an air of unwavering confidence. A few more games like Wednesday , and maybe the rest of us will share that confidence, too.