Francisco Lindor mets
John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 version of Francisco Lindor seemed to be the one the Mets were hoping they initially acquired.

The veteran shortstop was hot, peaking at a .313 average with four home runs and a dozen RBIs as the Mets started off 12-5.

But it’s a long season. Slumps occur. And from early to mid-May, Lindor looked like his disappointing 2021 self again. By May 13, his average dipped to a measly .228.

But over the last few days as the Mets have kept winning games and series to stay atop the National League East, the infielder has slowly emerged from a funk. If his latest production can remain consistent, it would be critical. The Mets are in the midst of a tough stretch. And with injuries to the pitching staff (Max Scherzer, Tylor Megill, and of course, Jacob deGrom), Lindor is one of the bats that must make up for the missing star power.

Big Sunday/Monday performances. Every win is important — even against a struggling Rockies team and a slumping Giants squad. Lindor was crucial in the Mets’ last two victories.

Lindor went 2-for-4 and contributed to both runs on Sunday, knocking in one and scoring the other in a 2-0 win at Colorado. Then in a 13-3 blowout on Monday night in San Francisco as Mets fans were struggling to stay awake, Lindor went just 1-for-5 but put New York on the board with a two-run ground-rule double. The play tied the game at 2-2 in the third inning and gave Lindor his 499th and 500th career RBI.

The veteran shortstop doesn’t need to go 4-for-4 every single night. Just driving in runs when needed is fine, especially when big bats like Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, and even Mark Canha are also in the lineup.

The upcoming schedule. But the main reason why getting out of the funk will be important is the upcoming schedule. Whenever things are going right for the Mets (and they surely are amid a 29-15 start), fans just wait for the collapse. It’s happened far too often for the fanbase not to be worried about a bone-crushing slump that puts the season in jeopardy even as early as the summer.

Lindor and the Mets cannot let that dreaded slump occur during the upcoming stretch, when they finish their current series with the Giants before taking on a six-game homestand against the division rival Phillies and Nationals.

But it doesn’t end there.

The Mets then endure a frightening 10-game road trip out west. Four games against the first-place Dodgers, three games against the Padres (who are only a half-game back of the Dodgers in the NL West), and three games against the loaded Angels.

Oh, and then the Mets return to Queens for a three-game stint with the first-place Brewers.

New York will have various pitchers out, including Scherzer, deGrom, and potentially Megill. Unless arms like Carlos Carrasco, Chris Bassitt, and Taijuan Walker record gems, expect New York’s bats to have a ton on their plate until mid-June.

If Lindor can use these last two performances as stepping stones to catch fire again, it will be huge for a Mets team looking to retain its first-place division lead.

This is what Steve Cohen is paying Lindor for. Can he deliver?

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.