Mike Piazza; Photo: Shaw/Getty Images

After 87 games, the Mets are at 44-43, barely over .500, but in a position few expected. They are in fourth place (that was expected), but are only 2 games out of first place in the NL East. Sure, their division isn't playing that well, but with the Phillies, Braves, Marlins and Mets all in the hunt for the pennant, it looks like the rest of the season will be exciting.

So far, the Mets pitching has been amazin'. Their team ERA is the best in the majors with a 3.73 ERA and trail only the Cubs in ERA for starters with 3.77. The front end of the rotation, Tom Glavine, Al Leiter, and Steve Trachsel have all pitched very well, but the Mets are having problems with the 4th and 5th starters. Matt Ginter and Jae Seo have been struggling lately, which doesn't bode well for divisional races. There are talks of trades to upgrade the rotation or possibly calling up Scott Erickson from AAA.

Trading for a pitcher obviously presents another problem, the sacrifice of prospects. This season was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Mets, with some veterans and some new blood in the form of Kazuo Matsui. Matsui has played well recently, but started slow and is prone to errors in the field (he leads all shortstops in errors). Jose Reyes, Matsui's double play partner missed much of the first half with injuries, so the full potential of Matsui/Reyes is just starting to show itself.

While the Mets hitting has been sub-par at times, it seems to be improving. Matsui and Reyes are coming closer to expectations, Cliff Floyd has played well when not injured and Mike Piazza set records for a catcher. The real spark has been Richard Hidalgo, who arrived from the Astros via trade. One could even argue that the Hidalgo trade and his subsequent performance turned the season around for the Mets.

To compete in the divisional race, the Mets will need to maintain their pitching, shore up their defense, and come up with some run support for their starters. If they do most of that, which is an admittedly difficult task, they have a good shot at winning the NL East, something Gothamist never thought they could do this year.