Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Titles aren't won on paper and any witness to a championship will tell you that so much has to fall into place at a near-perfect stride in order to reach the top of the proverbial mountain.
It's early into the 2015 season, but a lot is breaking right for the New York Mets. Some things even perfect.
In my divisional preview for the upcoming season, I finished off my section on New York by writing "The Mets aren't the best team in the NL East, but they aren't the worst, either."
But nearly four weeks into the season, the Mets have already proven myself and a lot of others wrong. And they are doing so despite not having a great deal of fortune on their side.
New York, in fact, has fended off a large number of injuries to race out to a 13-3 start, best in the majors. The Mets have done so by taking a franchise record-tying 11-game winning streak into the weekend off the heels of their first 10-0 homestand in team history.
Their start matches the best in franchise annuals, first set by the 1986 club which featured the likes of Dwight Gooden, Gary Carter and Darryl Strawberry, and is remembered quite fondly in Queens.
"It's a huge accomplishment," said New York manager Terry Collins on the perfect homestand. "It's hard to do against the talent in the big leagues."
These Mets have defied odds every step of the way, something that could bode well for the club down the stretch. Here are just a few examples:
- Third baseman and team captain David Wright has missed the past eight games with a strained right hamstring. However, 28-year-old Eric Campbell has reached base in all eight games since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas to replace Wright, notching eight hits and seven walks while scoring seven runs. Wright had just four RBI through his first eight games and the Mets have essentially swapped his early lack of run production with a player who is doing a better job at getting on base.
- Adding to the injury woes, both catcher Travis d'Arnaud and left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins suffered fractures in the same game on April 12. Blevins isn't expected to be re-examined for six weeks due to his left arm fracture, while d'Arnaud will be looked at again in three weeks following an injury to his right pinky.
In the first game following the injuries, all New York did was grind out a 7-1 win over the Atlanta Braves to begin a three-game sweep in the last leg of the homestand.
- New York got young phenom Matt Harvey back from Tommy John surgery this season, but lost another budding arm to the same injury in Zach Wheeler before the start of the campaign. In has stepped the 41-year-old Bartolo Colon, who has won his first four starts in a season for the first time in his long career.
- Anticipated closer Jenrry Mejia landed on the DL early due to an elbow injury and then was hit with an 80-game PEDs suspension on April 11. In response, Jeurys Familia has collected the most saves in the first 16 games of any Mets' season (a majors-leading eight). All of that comes after going 5- for-10 in save chances last season.
There is no telling when the Mets' luck will run out, if it ever does completely, but New York is slowly building a case atop the NL East. The Mets have already proven they can beat the second-place Atlanta Braves, while the Washington Nationals, expected to run away with the division, sit two games under .500 at 7-9. The Nats are learning better than anybody that these things aren't won on paper.
The Mets can grab even more of a spotlight this weekend when they shoot for their longest winning streak in club history. That chance will come on Friday night against none other than the New York Yankees in the Bronx.
"We're going to enjoy it tonight, but we have a tough road trip ahead of us going across town," added Collins after Thursday's win.
At this rate, the annual "Subway Series" could be just one quick stop on a long, successful journey for the Mets.