Buck Showalter
Jeff Curry | USA TODAY Sports

When Max Scherzer signed last November, the Mets were sitting calm, cool and collected at the blackjack table.

They had been dealt a pair of aces – first Jacob deGrom, now Scherzer — and a postseason run felt very possible. The Scherzer addition gave them their best preseason chance at a World Series in over a decade.

So here we are in early June. The Mets are sitting pretty at 37-19, eight games ahead of the Braves in a surprisingly-uncompetitive National League East. And it’s been a blast witnessing the deGrom-Scherzer one-two punch two out of every five days, right?

Not so fast. What makes this Mets run so impressive is how they have raced to the top of the NL without the two guys they were set on leading their rotation. DeGrom has been sidelined all season with a shoulder injury; Scherzer has been out since mid-May with an oblique strain.

And somehow, the Mets keep on winning. They have found ways to pile up win after win over quality teams, even in the face of adversity. This past weekend’s series split in Los Angeles was the perfect example of how their 2022 season has gone — and why this is the team to beat in the NL once the aces are back.

Beginning the series with two of their better arms – Taijuan Walker and Chris Bassitt – the Mets were underwhelming in both contests. Walker’s 5 2/3 innings of two-run baseball was not enough to make up for a totally lost Mets offense, while Bassitt allowed two home runs the following night over six frames.

Things looked bleak. They needed two spot starters just to salvage a series split. Their first real slide all year felt much more likely.

But David Peterson and Trevor Williams delivered. Two pitchers who had to scrap to make the roster earlier this spring delivered superb starts that were instrumental in two critical wins, along with some brilliant outings from the bullpen, Pete Alonso’s red-hot bat and a big extra-innings knock from J.D. Davis.

With their backs against the wall on two occasions, the Mets made it clear again: They are different. They aren’t the same old Mets. And they still have room to grow. Buck Showalter’s team is far from reaching its peak.

With deGrom and Scherzer – not to mention Tylor Megill – all expected to return at some point in July, the Mets are going to be a handful. This past weekend spoke volumes about what they can accomplish in October. This is officially a World Series-or-bust club.