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Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff McNeil (6), and Pete Alonso.

It was a foregone conclusion that the New York Mets were going to have a difficult schedule in 2020, even under normal circumstances.

The National League East was expected to be one of the toughest divisions in baseball with four teams — the defending world-champion Washington Nationals, the 97-win Atlanta Braves, the power-hungry Phillies, and yes, even the Mets — garnering realistic postseason expectations.

Major League Baseball’s 60-game season instituted after ineffective negotiations and the coronavirus pandemic only inflamed the notion that if the Mets are legitimate playoff contenders, they’ll have to take one of the toughest roads to get there.

The league released its season schedule on Monday night and did the Mets no favors in the process:

July 24-26: vs. Atlanta Braves (3 games)
July 27-28: @ Boston Red Sox (2 games)
July 29-30: vs. Red Sox (2 games)
July 31-Aug. 3: @ Braves (4 games)
Aug. 4-5: @ Washington Nationals (2 games)
Aug. 7-9: vs. Miami Marlins (3 games)
Aug. 10-13: vs. Nationals (4 games)
Aug. 14-16: @ Philadelphia Phillies (3 games)
Aug. 17-20: @ Marlins (4 games)
Aug. 21-23: vs. New York Yankees (3 games)
Aug. 25-27: vs. Marlins (3 games)
Aug. 28-30: @ Yankees (3 games)
Sept. 1-2: @ Baltimore Orioles (2 games)
Sept. 4-7: vs. Phillies (4 games)
Sept. 8-9: vs. Orioles (2 games)
Sept. 11-13: @ Toronto Blue Jays (3 games)
Sept. 15-17: @ Phillies (3 games)
Sept. 18-20: vs. Braves (3 games)
Sept. 21-23: vs. Tampa Bay Rays (3 games)
Sept. 24-27: @ Nationals (4 games)

The Mets’ first five series of the 2020 season is the most difficult in baseball based on last year’s records. The Braves, Red Sox and Nationals had a combined winning percentage of .571 last season.

The lowly Pittsburgh Pirates have the second-toughest opening to the 2020 season with their opponents combining for a .568 winning percentage.

They don’t get much of a reprieve after that difficult start either with the Miami Marlins being the only team with a losing record from last year that the Mets will play until September. Luckily for them, they have three series against them, but the matchups are sandwiched with tilts against the Nationals, Phillies and the Yankees.

The first part of September is favorable for the Mets with four games against the Orioles and three against the Blue Jays, but MLB makes them pay down the stretch.

Their final four matchups in what could be a postseason push will come against the Phillies looking to rectify the mistakes of an underwhelming campaign last year, the Braves, the 96-win Tampa Bay Rays, and four games against the Nationals in Washington, D.C.

Noted author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said that “difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” Well, consider the Mets’ push for the playoffs to be quite the trek.

This story originally appeared on amny.com

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