LOS ANGELES – The Amazin’s woke up in the City of Angels on Friday morning with the second-best winning percentage (.660) in the National League, and the third-best percentage in the majors. The only NL team in front of them was their opponent this weekend: the mighty Dodgers.

“That’s a team that you have to go out there and you have to battle every single inning,” Starling Marte said. “They play the game hard and that’s what we strive to do. We have to match that same intensity, inning by inning, when we play them.”

So one can understand if the narrative engulfing these two teams as they play a four-game set at Chavez Ravine is one that presents a big test for the Mets, who are the underdogs in this matchup despite entering the series with a double-digit first place lead in their own division.

But the Mets’ overall approach to the Dodgers series, they say, is just like their attitude to any other matchup. Players say that much of that mentality, which has been omnipresent for the club no matter who they’ve played this season, derives chiefly from manager Buck Showalter. The skipper, somewhat predictably, said Thursday that their series against the Dodgers is no bigger test than any of the other challenging teams the Mets have faced this season.

“I don’t get into the litmus test,” Showalter said. “That’s somebody else’s terminology. It’s a competitive situation every night.”

But the 48,018 fans in attendance at Dodger Stadium for the series opener on Thursday night and the pomp and circumstance surrounding the much-anticipated matchup say otherwise. Whether the Mets want to publicly admit it or not, their first look at the Dodgers this weekend is a good indication of how a potential National League Championship Series between these two strong teams may play out. And that’s why everyone, including the Dodgers and Mets, knows that this series is a big test.

Even Steve Cohen hopped on his private plane and flew to Los Angeles to watch his Mets this weekend.

Besides the obvious excitement surrounding the series, the billionaire Mets owner has a particular affinity for the Dodger organization and how the team has built itself into a perennial playoff contender. When Cohen first bought the Mets in Nov. 2020, he was asked in his introductory press conference which sports franchise, whether its baseball or not, he’d like to model the Mets.

“I like what the Dodgers are doing,” Cohen, a lifelong Mets fan, responded with no hesitation. “They have a really strong farm system, they take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace for free agents and trades. I think they run a pretty good business operation too. So I think that’s one team that easily seems to make the mark in the type of places that I want to do the same.”

As big of an assessment this weekend represents for the Mets, who lost the series opener on Thursday, nothing gets decided in June. As such, it’s important to put in perspective the context that surrounds the Amazin’s during their first look at the Dodgers.

Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer are both on the injured list, expected to return before or around next month’s All-Star break. If those future Hall of Fame arms can stay healthy by the time the Mets play a possible NLCS in Los Angeles, then the outlook between these teams will be completely different than what it is now, in early June with just over 50 games of the 162-game schedule accomplished. The Dodgers are also missing Clayton Kershaw and Max Muncy, two keys to their potential playoff success.

As such, the Mets are not wrong to approach this Dodger series like they would any other. The Amazin’s are not bringing the same team they hope to bring to October baseball, and that’s coming from a club that is currently dominating the NL East and is ranked in the top three in the majors. In truth, the Mets are likely feeling a mix of emotions as they face the Dodgers this weekend.

“We don’t want to come in here and think, ‘We’re facing the Dodgers! Oh my gosh, we’re facing the Dodgers!’ We know it comes with the territory,” said J.D. Davis. “It’s like going to Yankee Stadium. It’s like going to Chicago. This is Market A, and they’ve been one of the best teams for the past decade.

“Is it a test in a way? Sure. But then again, we’re not even at full strength either. … It’s more like, how are you going to pitch to us? How are you going to be strategic? If we’re fortunate to be in the playoffs, in the NLCS, then we have an idea now. But at the same time, you still want to bring your A game because it is the Dodgers.”

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