Off to slow start, Mets can turn it around quickly

Defending NL East champs have favorable upcoming schedule

Off to slow start, Mets can turn it around quickly

NEW YORK -- A year ago, before they rattled off 11 straight wins, crashed all the way back to earth, made a series of Trade Deadline moves and transformed into the monster that they ultimately became, the Mets were 2-3. Three percent of the way through their season, they had lost more games than they had won.

So why some folks around Flushing seem to be ripping their hair out following this year's 2-3 start, which the Phillies punctuated with a 5-2 win over the Mets on Sunday, has the players collectively scratching their heads. Three percent of the season is not much -- particularly considering that a year ago, the Mets wound up making history with the other 97 percent.

"We can find -- I don't want to say comfort, but we can find some guidance in what we were able to accomplish with the start that we got off last year," said third baseman David Wright, who finished 2-for-4 to raise his batting average 85 points. "It goes to show you that you don't need to get off to that incredibly fast start to be successful. We would like to do that. It sounds like I'm making excuses. We'd love to get off to the fast start. We haven't. But once we put it all together, I think we can be that type of team that can start winning some series, start putting together some winning streaks."

Wright on 5-2 loss

Considering how friendly the upcoming schedule is, that could happen soon. Following six games against the Marlins and Indians this week, the Mets will play nine in a row versus the Phillies, Braves and Reds -- three clubs using the 2016 season to rebuild. It is an opportunity for precisely the type of thing the Mets were so good at last year, fattening up against the National League's worst teams. They finished 28-5 against the NL's last-place Phillies, Reds and Rockies.

So in that sense, the Mets do see this weekend as a lost opportunity. In dropping two of three to the Phillies at home, the Mets have already lost twice as many games to their closest geographic rivals at Citi Field as they did all of last year. Yet so many games are yet to come.

"Guys are upset when we lose, but when you look at the big picture of things, we're still trying to get our feet under us at the beginning of the season," Wright said. "We want to win. And we're going out there preparing to win. It's just sometimes, you get in these little funks and you get outplayed for a couple of days. I don't think it's anything more than that. You don't see any panicked looks on the faces. You don't see any craziness going on. It's just baseball."

The last thing the Mets need, Wright said, is for hitters to start revamping the swings they worked on all spring, or for pitchers to start changing up formulas that are proven to work. Take Yoenis Cespedes, for example. The Mets' No. 3 hitter elicited boos from the Citi Field crowd Saturday while going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts; a day later, they turned to rousing cheers when he smacked a two-run homer to knock out Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson and give the Mets a chance.

Cespedes' two-run blast

"I'm just here to do my job, and everyone here is here to contribute," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "Everyone contributes a little bit. One person can't fix a team."

Just like five games can't doom one. Cespedes knows that. His teammates know that. So while fans can panic all they want, the Mets won't be taking part.

"We'd like to win, that's for sure," Wright said. "But there's a lot of time to prove what we want to prove, and that's to be successful at home and be successful in our division. We're not off to the best of starts, but we've got a chance to rebound against a very good Marlins team. It will be a nice test for us."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.