Identifying the Mets turning point in 2015…
It’s easy to look back at July 24 being the red letter date for the Mets season in 2015.
It was the day the Mets acquired both Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe from the Braves, while also purchasing Michael Conforto’s contract from Double-A Binghamton.
All of these transactions have paid dividends beyond expectation.
It’s also easy to consider the zero-hour acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers at 3:40 PM on July 31, minutes before the non-waiver deadline arrived. He has single-handedly transformed and carried the offense in the six weeks he’s been a Met, and transformed the team from being merely a contender to the Nationals to the likely runaway champion of the National League East in 2015.
But it is this author’s opinion the turning point for the Mets took place earlier than that.Think back to the beginning of July. The Mets were meandering around .500 as they faced the Cubs for a three-game set at Citi Field. The Cubs came to town and blew the Mets out of the water, completely outplaying them for three days as they completed a sweep of the Mets in New York.
It was that day whispers about Terry Collins job security began to percolate around Citi Field. Seemingly moments after that series ended, the .500 Mets boarded a plane for Los Angeles to face the daunting task of overcoming both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke on consecutive nights in Dodger Stadium, a place they hardly lose at especially when their two Cy Young candidates are on the mound.
And again, the Mets would have to do that after a tiring three-game sweep to the Cubs.
But while the media speculated about Collins’ future, the Mets were confident they would be triumphant in California.
“Don’t worry, we will win four games out there,” a Met said following their loss to the Cubs on July 2.
After losing the way they did to the Cubs that week, that seemed like nothing more than blind faith.
As it turns out, it wasn’t.
They found a way to win at Dodger Stadium in a game started by Kershaw the next night. It was a nailbiter, as the Mets defeated Los Angeles with Noah Syndergaard on the mound by the score of 2-1.
The next day, July 4, Matt Harvey delivered an uneven performance against Greinke as the Mets fell 4-3. But they dominated the Dodgers the next afternoon with phenom Steven Matz on the hill.
Two out of three in Los Angeles was a start.
But then the Mets flew north to San Francisco to face the Giants at AT&T Park, another always daunting task for the Mets. But the Mets took two out of three against the Giants, allowing only four runs to San Francisco in the three-game set.
In total, the Mets flew home winners of four out of six, allowing only ten runs in the six games, and a record of 44-42 with a three-game deficit behind the Nationals.
The Mets had survived the challenge and the whispers, and didn’t look back at that point.
They swept the Diamondbacks ahead of the All-Star break, and while they lost four of the next six games to the tough Cardinals and Nationals, they were hanging around at 49-46, three games out on July 23 with a week to go before the deadline.
And that’s when the Mets front office decided to go for it and make the necessary changes to the roster.
But that west coast trip was clearly a crossroads for the 2015 Mets for a number of reasons. If they had lost four out of those six games or worse, perhaps the Mets aren’t in a position to augment the roster ahead of the trade deadline, and this Subway Series would merely be an exhibition for the Mets to once again simply battle for supremacy of the city.
Since July 23, the Mets have gone 43-23, having scored 5.2 runs per game over those 63 contests.
They were 40-40 the day they left for California.
Of course, the race isn’t over yet, but something beyond the failure of 2007 would have to take place in order for the Mets to blow an eight game lead with 16 to go.
With ten of the next 16 games against the Braves, Reds and Phillies, it’s hard to believe that nightmare scenario could possibly take place.