Mickey Callaway
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

Two games back in the National League Wild Card race, the New York Mets will have to be at their best from here on out.

Beginning on Tuesday vs. the Cleveland Indians, the New York Mets will play 18 straight games against teams that are above .500.

12-5 in the month of August, New York has done a good job of putting themselves in position to play meaningful games late into the season.

“It’s going to be tough,” outfielder Michael Conforto said of the team’s upcoming schedule.

“Hopefully we can continue to get that energy from the fans, from the atmosphere. We really fed off the fans in our past homestand and it allowed us to be energized. It’s a huge advantage for us.”

One benefit of this difficult stretch of the schedule is that the first nine games are at Citi Field.

After the three-game set with All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and the Indians, the Mets host the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs for three each before hitting the road.

Sharp of late, left-hander Steven Matz (7-7, 4.33 ERA, 116.1 IP) will start on Tuesday vs. 2019 MLB All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Shane Bieber (12-5, 3.27, 162.1).

Much like the Mets, the Indians are embroiled in a fierce Wild Card battle, this one of course, in the American League. Cleveland currently holds a one-game edge over the Tampa Bay Rays for the top Wild Card spot.

While he is new to the franchise, second baseman Joe Panik has experience with late-season playoff pushes. Playing a pivotal role, Panik won a World Series as a rookie with the San Francisco Giants in 2014.

“Kind of having gone through this before, this is where you want to be.

“You’re in the hunt, you’re in the race … We’re at home, so we have to take care of business.”

The Mets have done an effective job of winning their games at Citi Field in 2019, boasting a 34-21 record, good for a .618 winning percentage.

They have had their struggles on the road, but the Mets will get a chance to control their own destiny, for better or worse.

Playing the Phillies six times—three at home, three at Citizens Bank—in the next 18 games, the playoff picture will become much clearer.

Standing at an identical 64-60, the Mets and Phillies trail the Cubs by two games in the Wild Card race.

38 games remain in the regular season for the Mets. These next 18 will go a long way in determining whether or not this club is playing on October 1.

Feel free to follow Teddy Rydquist and ESNY on Twitter @EliteSportsNY @TeddyRydquist.

A 2018 graduate of Bowling Green State University, Rydquist has been covering the New York Mets for ESNY since 2019. In addition to his work here, he covers Michigan football recruiting for FanSided and NASCAR for CATCHFENCE. He can be found on Twitter @TeddyRydquist.