Mets are primed to make a run at wild card — even after mediocre start

MIAMI — The Mets are going to make the playoffs. You heard it here first. 

(OK, maybe not first, but pretty close.) 

Before you accuse me of being a honk, fanboy, lightweight, loser, or even on the take (that’s apparently the latest way to “cook” someone) in the wake of their latest dismal, disheartening performance here Friday night — perhaps their worst of the season — please hear me out. 

Consider all that’s gone wrong, and know they were still only one-half game out of the final wild-card spot before their 8-0 defeat to the Marlins on Friday night. Things don’t look great today, but it says here better days are ahead. And I’m far from the only one around here who sees the postseason in 2024. 

“I agree,” Francisco Lindor said before the game. “We haven’t taken off, and we’re not far.” 

Francisco Lindor and the Mets haven’t gotten off to the best start in 2024. AP

“One hundred percent,” Pete Alonso said about the Mets’ October chances. “We’ve played decent baseball. But I think we haven’t played our best baseball yet.” 

Here’s why the three of us are right (and most everyone else isn’t). 

1. Their schedule has been a bear. 

Somehow, they’ve played more than a quarter of the season, and Friday represented their first chance to play one of the true patsies of MLB — the Rockies, White Sox, A’s or the in-division doormat Marlins, who they’d beaten 22 out of 32 since the start of 2022. 

Though the Mets turned in a clunker in the teams’ first matchup, the schedule should work for them. The first 18 games of July come against perennial also-rans. 

(Of course, they will have to play better than they did Friday when rookie Christian Scott was pounded early on his home turf. The Fort Lauderdale area product just never looked comfortable in a matchup with Marlins ace Jesus Luzardo, also from neighboring Broward County.) 

Luzardo was pitching in a showcase and is likely to follow stars out of here as the Marlins play for 2026, or beyond. Maybe the next time the Mets face the Marlins, they’ll be fortunate and Luzardo will be elsewhere. 

Maybe he’s someone the Mets should consider? 

2. Lindor isn’t a .195 hitter. 

Francisco Lindor should start to turn things around. Getty Images

Well, he technically is right now. But you know that will change. 

We are only in the third year of the biggest contract in Mets history — $341M over 10 years — and at 30, he’s right smack in the middle of his prime, too. 

Lindor’s expected batting average is actually .273. I’m not exactly sure how much that means, but that’s almost exactly what I expect Lindor to be hitting. Anyway, Mr. Smile isn’t about to change. 

“That’s news to me,” Lindor said of the .273 expected average. “It means I’ve got to continue to stay the course.” 

3. Their offense is only getting better. 

J.D. Martinez isn’t just Pete Alonso’s hitting whisperer, which was mentioned here first, he’s the right guy to protect the greatest slugger in Mets history. And he’s just warming up after a long winter that didn’t turn out as he’d hoped after he hit 33 home runs in 113 games for the Dodgers. 

J.D. Martinez has looked good at the plate for the Mets. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

Mark Vientos will bring extra offense, as well, and it’s good to see he’s back in his rightful place in the majors. I know he doesn’t rank as high as Brett Baty on prospect lists, but let’s face it, he’s hit better. 

4. Their pitching depth remains better than most. 

Luis Severino and Sean Manaea are great pickups, talented Tylor Megill is back, David Peterson is looking ready in rehab, and the bullpen — save for star closer Edwin Diaz, who just needs to regain confidence in his 97-mph fastball — has been exceptional. 

I’m not giving up on ace Kodai Senga, either. It’s weird to have a mechanical issue set back your rehab, but he’s said to be feeling better. He’d definitely help. 

5. Don’t misunderstand one cryptic tweet. 

Mets power brokers believe this is a playoff-caliber team. Baseball president David Stearns said as much to The Post in spring, so he actually said it first. (There’s no shame in being three months behind the Harvard man.) 

Some fans got needlessly upset by a since-deleted tweet by club owner Steve Cohen that read: “All in the future, not much we can do until the trade deadline.” Some fans apparently took it to mean — mistakenly, I believe — the Mets are intending to sell. 

Steve Cohen had a cryptic post on X. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

I wouldn’t take it that way. It was meant as a direct message, and while I’m sure the intended recipient understood what it meant, I can’t claim to know. 

But knowing Cohen and his M.O., I certainly wouldn’t read anything negative into it. This isn’t the Marlins. If this Mets team is close, they’ll make moves to better the club. 

Cohen may not be a perfect tweeter — heaven knows, I’m not! — but he’s willing to spend to win. If we know one thing, we should know that. 

This is why one recent survey suggested Cohen was the game’s most popular owner with a 70 percent approval rating. I would put the team’s playoff chance up in that range, too. One tweet isn’t about to change that.

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