The next time you watch the Mets, tomorrow night in San Francisco against Tim Lincecum, Carlos Beltran will be in the lineup. What will he be capable of? What can be reasonably expected? If Beltran is 90 percent of the old Beltran, he could be just the spark the Mets need after a better-than-anticipated first half. But a lot has to break right.
First off, the standings. The Mets are four games behind the Braves in the NL East, and only a half-game ahead of those blasted Phillies, who are going through a rain of injuries similar to what the Mets went through last year. In the wild-card race, the Mets are one game behind Colorado and Los Angeles, but in the middle of a massive standings logjam. Seven teams — Cincinnati, Colorado, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and the Mets — are all within two games of each other. The PECOTA Playoff Odds have 27.7 percent odds that the Mets make the playoffs. That's lower than you'd like.
But that's not accounting for Beltran, whose second half might determine whether the Mets can pull this off. (Also, it would be nice to see Mike Pelfrey return to form.) Beltran, with Jose Reyes and David Wright back on top of their games, can turn a scary lineup into a truly dangerous one: Get those three going, and it'll feel like 2006 all over again.
It's important to remember that no one really saw this from the Mets this year, this contending. It couldn't have come at a better time; after last season's debacle, this was a franchise in need of some hope, in need of a sign that something could go right. The first half has been almost all Mets fans could have hoped for. The goal for the second half is for that not to be forgotten.