The Mets Have to Hit the Ground Running

With Braves and Nationals in first six games, Mets have chance to strike a real blow

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Matt Harvey's future should come into focus in the next week.

    Baseball finally returns on Friday night and the Mets will not get a chance to ease themselves back into the swing of things.

    They head to Atlanta, who lead them by a half-game in the NL East and for the Wild Card, for three games this weekend and then they will move on to Washington for three games against the division-leading Nationals.

    Six games aren't going to tell us anything that we don't already know about these teams, but they could give us some guidance about where the Mets should go from here.

    If they have a winning week, they'll push their way from wishful to hopeful on the playoff meter and increase the likelihood that Sandy Alderson will make moves to push the needle even further in the right direction. The NL East has no juggernaut and gaining on Washington before Stephen Strasburg gets shut down makes it even more likely that the Mets can hang around the top the rest of the way.

    A losing week doesn't knock them out of anything, but it will obviously make the math a little more difficult. In a way, though, a losing week would be better than going 3-3 in the six games.

    The hardest thing for the Mets right now is figuring out whether they are in or out when it comes to making a hard playoff push. Their decision about Matt Harvey underlines that fact.

    If the Mets were 40-46 right now and staring at a Dillon Gee-sized hole in their rotation, no one would really object to the way they are shrugging their shoulders and handing the ball to Miguel Batista. There's no point in rushing Harvey along to pitch for a team that would wind up in the same place with Harvey the imaginary rabbit taking a turn every five days.

    But they aren't 40-46 and there's not much chance that Batista offers them a better chance to win right now than Harvey would if summoned from Buffalo. It might not be the ideal trajectory for a young pitcher, but team needs also need to be weighed when making such decisions.

    Treading water only kicks that can down the road wheras a more definitive record would make the decision easier. It would also let the Mets know if there's a point in thinking about moving other players -- Scott Hairston would make a nice righty bat for any contender -- who will help the long-term build going on in the organization.

    You can flip that around when it comes to making acquisitions, but only if the Mets have some kind of certainty about their position in the National League. That's missing right now and the first six games after the break will be a big part of its creation.

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    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.