|Mets Manager Mickey Callaway. Photo by Jason Schott.|
On Monday night, the Mets start a three-game series in Atlanta against the first-place Braves, the start of an 11-game road trip against playoff contenders.
The Braves are 42-30, winners of nine of their last 10 games as they have taken over first place in the National League East.
The Mets then head to Wrigley Field for a four-game series with the Cubs starting on Thursday.
The Cubs are 39-32, tied for first in the Wild Card race with the team the Mets will then take on in another four-game set, the Philadelphia Phillies, who have the same record.
The Mets are coming off a brutal weekend in which they lost three of four to the St. Louis Cardinals, leaving them well under .500 at 34-37.
This capped a stretch in which the Mets had 10 of 12 games at home, with the two road games over at Yankee Stadium.
The Mets had a real chance to make some headway in the division, but instead they went 6-6.
Mets Manager Mickey Callaway was asked on Sunday afternoon if this 11-game trip is a make-or-break for his team's season, and he said, "I wouldn't ever put that terminology on anything because it's never over 'til it's over and you have a chance. We need to get to .500. We talked about it this morning as a group, we need to get to .500 and then we have to add past that. We have a chance to do that on this road trip, and I expect we're going to play good baseball and get that accomplished."
Callaway then was asked how they can do this against three playoff teams, "We're putting ourselves in a position to win games, and I expect our bullpen to turn things around. They're not going to be like this all the time, so once we get that turned around, our starting pitchers are doing their job, our offense has been swinging the bat really well, and that one last piece, get that bullpen going, then we're going to be able to do what we want to do, get back to .500 and surpass that."
The Mets have always seemed like they're missing one piece this season, and Callaway said that "absolutely" gives him optimism going forward, adding, "We have a talented team - we believe in ourselves - but lately, our bullpen hasn't been performing the way we would all like it to, so we've got to fix that part of it. If that had been going the we wanted it to and we expect it's going to turn into, we'd be in a good spot right now. It hasn't, so we're going to work diligently everyday to put ourselves in a better spot to go out and have success, and then if we do that, I know we'll get to where we want to, and that's get to .500 and the start building upon that."