Zack Wheeler
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

With the tough schedule that the New York Mets have over the next month, the back end of their rotation will face its biggest test yet.

Since the New York Mets’ offensive production has taken a hit due to injuries to key players (Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier), it has put a lot of pressure on the starting rotation night in and night out. Well, that pressure is only going to heighten when you take a look at the schedule the Mets have over the next month.

On Thursday night, the Mets opened a four-game series in Miller Park against the Milwaukee Brewers. From May 24-June 29, the Mets only play five games against teams with a losing record. Those games are June 5-6 against the Baltimore Orioles and June 22-24 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

If you go off the current standings, this stretch of games includes 14 games against first-place teams such as the Brewers, Braves, and Rockies. Plus, there are home series against the Cubs and the Yankees mixed in. With some of those teams having explosive offenses, it is going to test a rotation that has been subpar for the most part.

Outside of Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, the rest of the Mets rotation has been a roll of the dice night in and night out. The trio of Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, and Jason Vargas have combined to pitch to a 5.74 ERA in May. That production is not going to get it done if the Mets want to stay in playoff contention, much less go for an NL East title.

Right now, the Mets need Matz to start giving them more length in games. Heading into Thursday night’s contest, the 26-year-old left-hander has only thrown six innings in an outing one time (May 5 against the Rockies). While he hasn’t given up more than four runs in a game this year, the nine home runs he has given up (leads the team) causes a lot of concern.

As for Wheeler, he showed good progress in his outing against the Marlins on Tuesday. He snapped his streak of three straight games with three walks and he has 23 strikeouts in his last three starts. With that being said, he has thrown 17 pitches per inning this month and opponents are still hitting for a high average (.304).

With Vargas throwing five shutout innings on Monday against Miami and getting his first win, it will be interesting to see if he can continue that momentum. The Mets will need it because there aren’t any reinforcements coming with the rotation.

If you look at some possible names, Chris Flexen is currently in the big league bullpen and Corey Oswalt has a 6.18 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas despite giving up one run over six innings on Wednesday. Since Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman aren’t leaving the bullpen anytime soon, it is up to those three pitchers to find their consistency. If they do that, then every game New York loses with deGrom and Syndergaard on the mound might not feel so demoralizing.

This tough stretch of games over the next month could be seen as a make-or-break stretch for this team. That is even when they don’t have games against the Phillies or Nationals over that time period. If the back end of the rotation can help out, then New York’s offense can maybe pick them up when they start to get healthy.

I graduated from St. John's University with a degree in sports management. I previously wrote about the Johnnies at Rumble In the Garden.