The Mets are still in first place, but to stay there the backups need to come through

Oof. This past weekend was a rough one for the Mets. Not only did they get swept by Tampa Bay, but they lost Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto to the injured list with hamstring injuries. Brandon Nimmo continues to miss time with a finger injury, which means the active outfield consists of Dominic Smith and Kevin Pillar along with recent call-ups Khalil Lee and Johneshwy Fargas. That’s not ideal, even though Pillar has hit pretty well this month.

The good news is that everyone else in the National League East is also struggling, leaving the Mets in first place with four fewer losses than anyone else in the division despite a -10 run differential.

7-3 in the last 10 games is still good even if the run started with seven wins, right? Either way, the Mets have a chance to put some more distance between themselves and their rivals with their six-game road trip to Atlanta and Miami that starts tonight against the Braves.

That lineup is… something. The Mets will need the top of the lineup to carry the offense, so it would be a great time for Francisco Lindor to finally start playing like a superstar. The $341 million man is back below the Mendoza Line after going 1-for-12 over the weekend with six strikeouts. At least the one hit was a home run…

Frank the Tank was more impressed by DJ Kitty than by Lindor’s solo shot. That turned out to be the proper response, as the Mets’ bullpen let up six runs in the bottom of the eighth on Saturday to turn a close 6-5 game into a 12-5 blowout. That Lindor home run was rendered meaningless while DJ Kitty continues to be awesome.

We’re not yet at the famous Memorial Day measuring stick yet, but the importance of this series in Atlanta can’t be understated. The Braves feel like they are due to make a run and put some pressure on the Mets. New York has to at least tread water until Jacob deGrom and half the lineup is healthy enough to play again. When you take out the injured guys, the Mets aren’t a great team right now, so grinding out games and stealing wins is going to be important. Just like the continued greatness of Taijuan Walker, who is playing some of the best baseball of his career right now.

I’m optimistic that the Mets can win a couple against the Braves, but I’m still drawn to Frank’s negativity. Maybe it’s because his tweets remind me of my father’s constant doom-and-gloom attitude about the team. Maybe it’s because I’m sick of all the young rah-rah fans on Twitter who act like everything is sunshine and unicorns all the time while scolding anyone who would say a bad thing about the underperforming superstar shortstop.

No matter the reason, it’s still funny that KFC, who invented the “Cuncel” and who has been negative about the Mets in the past, is now the “we’re still a first-place team” guy. I’m chalking it up to him believing in the ownership change. It’s a legitimate reason to be more optimistic about the team, but it’s still strange to see KFC leading the optimism charge.

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