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mets

Jose Reyes, Who Needs ’Em?

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 06:  Closer Francisco Rodriguez #75 and Jose Reyes #7 of the New York Mets celebrate after Rodriguez picked up a save against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 6, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  The Mets won 5-3.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) The Mets sure are high-fiving a lot lately.

We all know that the Mets are unlikely to make the playoffs — 3.7 percent chance, according to Baseball Prospectus — so, all told, an individual winning streak shouldn't matter all that much, particularly if the Braves won't stop freaking winning. (Three in a row, eight of their last ten now.) But this could have been an awfully depressing week for the Mets. Jose Reyes was hurt last week, and even though it is supposedly just a "mild strain," it's looking like he's going to end up hitting the DL after all. Reyes has been the go in the Mets' go-go all season, as well as their biggest trade chip by far, if you're still playing that card. Now he's missing the All-Star Game, out of the lineup and battling yet another niggling injury. This could have been bad. Fortunately, the Mets just keep winning.

The Mets won their fourth in a row last night, beating the rotting zombie carcass franchise that is the Dodgers 5–3, thanks to some timely hitting and another solid starting performance from Jon Niese. It might be time to start giving Niese — famously born the day of the last Mets World Series victory — a little bit more love: According to Fangraphs' WAR rankings, he has been far and away the Mets' best pitcher this season. Handy fellow to have, especially considering he's still just 24 years old. (Yes, it has been 24 years.)

The big hit on the night came from Reyes' replacement, Ruben Tejada, who smashed a key two-run double in front of yet another tepid Dodger Stadium crowd. (We're going to be in Los Angeles for a week next month, and we're gonna see if we can get into three games for less than twenty bucks total. Bet we can do it.) This is now the first time all season the Mets have been three games over .500, and if we're playing the dreamy game, imagine where they might be if they hadn't started 5–13. At the time, that looked like the start of a predictably wretched season. Now it's a blip, difficult to even remember.

The Mets have one more game with the Dodgers tonight before the schedule starts getting a lot tougher: Starting tomorrow in San Francisco, the Mets play only one team with a losing record (Florida) until August 8. (To be fair, they play the Marlins six times, with three games each against Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Washington, and four against Cincinnati.) You only get to beat up on the bleeding Dodgers for so long. But if they can hang in this weekend and that first series against Philadelphia (during both of which they're likely to be without Reyes and David Wright), they can be back at close to full health right when they need it most. The Mets still aren't likely to make the playoffs. But they're in the race, and considering everything that's happened, that's just crazy. And thrilling to watch. With or without Reyes, as it turns out.

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Photo: Stephen Dunn/2011 Getty Images