<
>

Do you believe in the Mets?

NEW YORK -- General manager Sandy Alderson broached to his staff during spring training the New York Mets winning 90 games this season. Still, even Alderson made sure to clarify once the statement became public that it was a goal and not a prediction.

Well, 25 games into the season, the Mets have 14 wins, for a .560 winning percentage. Do some quick math on that pace and equates to 90 wins over the course of a 162-game season.

“A lot of people are questioning us a little bit. They want to see if you can do it,” outfielder Chris Young said about the Mets’ potential as the team headed into Monday’s day off. “And early on you want to show what the team is capable of. I feel like we’re doing a good job right now.”

Asked what he liked about the team so far, Young deadpanned: “Our record. That’s the main thing.

Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

Will the Mets keep giving causes for celebration at Citi Field, like Curtis Granderson did Friday with a walk-off RBI?

“The best thing for me, personally, has been the pitching staff,” the ex-Diamondback continued. “They’re the reason we are where we are. It’s not offense right now. I mean, it’s the pitching staff. It’s the pitching staff throwing up zeroes over and over and over again.”

Can the Mets be a legitimate postseason contender -- even just via the wild card?

Well, winning a division in which the Atlanta Braves have raced to a 17-7 start and the Washington Nationals are loaded seems unrealistic.

Still, if the starting pitching can sustain itself at this level, why not?

Yet that remains a lot to ask.

Throw out Bartolo Colon’s stinker in Anaheim, when he was charged with nine earned runs in five innings, and Mets starting pitchers have a 3.04 ERA for the season. Throw out Jenrry Mejia’s last start, too, and the starting pitchers’ ERA, which has been buoyed by solid fielding behind them, dips to 2.79 in the other 23 games.

“I really believe you win with pitching,” Terry Collins said. “We also knew when Matt [Harvey] went down, we had to find that fifth guy to come in and eat some innings up. Certainly Jenrry has shown us he can do that. Those other four guys [Dillon Gee, Colon, Jonathon Niese and Zack Wheeler], I’ve got all the confidence in the world. The more you send them out there, the more consistent they become with their stuff. We’re not a big strikeout pitching staff by any means. That’s why you’ve got to catch the baseball behind them. When you do, they can pitch good games.”

Collins sees signs that Chris Young’s bat is awakening. He had two homers on the homestand, and would have produced a third had Matt Holliday not reached over the outfield wall during a series in which the Mets took three of four from the defending NL champion St. Louis Cardinals.

As for struggling Curtis Granderson, who snapped an 0-for-22 skid during the homestand, Collins pointed to a shot he hit to right field that died short of the wall Sunday.

“That’s the sixth or seventh ball he’s hit here that has been caught that across town is a point,” Collins said, referring to a friendly right-field porch at Yankee Stadium. “That’s just some of the stuff you’ve got to deal with playing in this park.”

The glass-half-full analysis is the Mets’ anemic hitting (.218 average, .296 OBP, .318 slugging) is bound to come around, and imagine where the Mets will be then.

The glass-half-empty analysis is the starting pitching is not sustainable at this level.

The Mets have teased before. They were 10-9 last season after 19 games. They were 46-39 in 2012. Both seasons ended at 74-88.

And as functional as the bullpen has been despite losing Bobby Parnell to Tommy John surgery after one game, the relief corps will be on fumes by June if Carlos Torres, Scott Rice and Daisuke Matsuzaka continue to be used at this rate. Torres is on pace for 91 appearances and a whopping 97 relief innings.

“I think our bullpen is getting a little tired,” Collins acknowledged Sunday. “Right now, the day off will help. But for the most part we’re going to hang in there. That’s the way we have to play.”

Added Collins: “We feel good about where we are. We’re not happy that we only have the wins that we have. We thought we could have won a couple of more -- two or three more. But that’s what it is. That’s what the game is. We’ve stolen a couple of games, too. We’re just going to go out and play it and continue to try to get better offensively.”