Are the New York Mets for real? Or is their early-season success just a fluke? As the ol' cliché goes, 'Only time will tell.' But that doesn't help us as bettors. Can the Mets can be counted on to continue their winning ways, or should we expect a fading in Flushing?

The 2012 Mets: so far, so good

New York was picked by almost everybody outside of Queens to finish last in the NL East this season. And who could blame us? New York was coming off a 77-85 campaign last year - its third straight losing season - and had just lost probably its most important offensive player, SS Jose Reyes, to Miami via free-agency. 

The Mets went off this season as the longest shots on almost every NL East betting board, getting upwards of 30/1 to win the division, with a regular-season wins 'over/under' of 74. 

Not exactly “contender” status. 

But, to the surprise of many around the baseball world, the Mets enter this week at four games above .500, at 19-15, and in third place in the East, 2.5 games behind first-place Atlanta. 

That's even after blowing two late leads over the weekend in losses to the Marlins. 

So how have they done it? 

Well, New York figured to have trouble pushing runs across the plate this year, especially after losing Reyes. But, so far the Mets have been able to come through with enough clutch hits to make a living. This team is not going to pound anyone into submission, or run rampant on the basepaths; they rank 26th in home runs with 23 and second to last in stolen bases with just 12. But, they are hitting .270 as a team, fifth-best in the Majors, and they rank fifth in the National League in scoring at 4.3 runs per game

Johan SantanaAs for Mets pitching, their starting rotation seems just fine. Johan Santana, RA Dickey, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee have combined to provide New York with 20 quality starts in 27 outings so far this year, which means the Mets are right in most of their games. 

But, the bullpen has been a drag, with it's 5.01 ERA and six blown saves. And thanks (in part) to that bullpen, New York pitching overall ranks near the bottom in the Majors with its 4.36 team ERA and 1.43 team WHIP. 

The injury situation 

The other day the Mets played without 1B Ike Davis, 2B Ruben Tejada, OF Jason Bay, and C Josh Thole. That's four starters they were down, and that's not a good sign. 

Davis is expected to be OK, but Bay has been on the DL since April with bad ribs; Tejada, who owns a .362 OBP, is out with a strained quad, and Thole suffered a concussion and is on the seven-day DL. Problem is, those concussions can be scary things. Thole could come back unaffected, or his symptoms could linger, and keep him out of action for longer than anticipated. It's just hard to tell.  

New York's starting rotation also took a hit when it lost Mike Pelfrey for the season in April to an elbow injury. The Mets hope to add Chris Young sometime soon, but who knows when. 

The competition

A couple things the Mets have going for them at the moment have less to do with their own performance and more to do with that of their NL East competition. The Phillies were the big favorites to win the East again this season, but they're finding life without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley a bit tougher than expected. Through the weekend, Philly is three games under .500. 

The Miami Marlins loaded up over the off-season to give the Phillies a run, but they got off to a terrible start. They do seem to be coming around, though, and loom as a threat. 

The Nationals have that great starting rotation, but they also have problems scoring runs. 

As for the Atlanta Braves - well, they may be in first place at the moment, but there's always that chance they'll collapse. 

In all seriousness, though, the NL East has at least four teams that could finish above .500, and the Mets might not be one of them.

June could change their tune

New York's schedule doesn't look too tough for about the next three weeks, with series against, among others, the Brewers, Reds, Pirates, and Padres. But, June brings with it a four-game home series with St. Louis, then a nine-game road trip that takes the Mets to Washington, the Bronx and Tampa. So, we might get a better idea of just who this team is during that stretch. 

2012 Mets ultimate prediction

Early this season the Mets were being offered at upwards of 50/1 at some sportsbooks to win the National League pennant. As of this week, New York had been bet down to about 25/1 on most of those boards. They say good pitching and timely hitting wins games. But, can this particular team continue to score runs without power or speed? And what about this bullpen? Oh, yeah, and through the weekend only three other teams had committed more errors so far than the Mets. My guess is, that sooner or later those things will catch up to the Mets, and they'll end up finishing fourth or fifth in what is a pretty good division.