Say what you want about the 2012 New York Mets, but they are officially 3-0 to start the regular season and have shown minimal, if any, signs of them being an inferior team in the National League East. Thursday featured the return of ace Johan Santana in which he pitched a very solid five scoreless innings. Though the offense was slow, only scoring one run, the bullpen that had struggled all spring showed up to keep the Braves' bats silent and preserve the first shutout of the season. On Saturday, fans got a chance to see firsthand why the outfield fences were moved in during the off-season, as Lucas Duda hit two home runs that would have been lazy fly balls in previous seasons, leading to a 4-2 victory. And although Jon Niese's bid for a no-hitter on Sunday turned into a tense conclusion, the Mets offensive explosion was able to outlast the Braves' bats as the Mets swept their first series of the regular season.
While it's only three games and any team can go on a three game winning streak, there is no doubt that there is an incredibly positive atmosphere surrounding the Mets clubhouse right now. Having been around these players, I know how much they want to win. They don't care about John Kruk, Jon Miller or Joe Buck's analysis. They know that they're considered underdogs yet they know that they still have a job to do. Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson had to answer questions all winter about how the Mets were going to possibly compete in 2012 with all the holes in their lineup, but at least for now, they showed that they are not rolling over just because that's what they're supposed to do.
This week, the Mets host the Washington Nationals who are coming into town after taking two out of three from the Chicago Cubs. Needless to say, while a Mets win isn't a necessity on Monday night, a decent pitching performance from Mike Pelfrey (7-13, 4.74 ERA in 2011) is. With all the rumors flying around about Pelfrey's possible release over the past couple weeks, it is imperative that Mike Pelfrey shows from the start that his presence on the mound is worth the Mets time and patience. While Pelfrey has good pitching mechanics and has shown the ability to be brilliant in the past, 2011 was really a lost season as the act of pitching seemed to be too mentally tiring for him. He got rattled easily and it was always hard for him to recover.
As a whole, it's nice to sit here and analyze something positive regarding the Mets. This past offseason was truly long and painful, and nothing seemed to be going their way. Though it was awkward to see Jose Reyes fly out to Carlos Beltran on Wednesday night in Miami, I love the direction this team is heading. The Braves are by all definitions an above-average team and the Mets passed a tough test to open 2012 by playing fundamental and winning baseball. While I could very easily be sitting here a week from now with a much different mentality, I'm excited about the effort being put forth by this Mets team thus far, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of what they can do.