It is do or die time for the Mets, who are playing meaningful games in September for the first time since 2016, and they need to get hot, and they to get a little lucky if they want to return to the postseason.
It has been a while since I have written about the Mets, and the reason for that is simple. I didn’t want to jinx the run that they were on since I essentially said their season was over and discussed how they could improve in 2020. And by the way, the run they went on caused a lot of what I talked about to not age so well. But that is a story for another day.
After I posted my last article the Mets proceeded to lose three out of four games to the San Francisco Giants, in classic Mets fashion. The Mets should have swept, or at least won the series, but instead, they fell nine games under .500 at 45-54 and would need a miracle to get back into playoff contention.
I knew that a run like that would be so unlikely that I was just about to throw in the towel myself and continue to write articles about possible strategies the Mets could take in order to improve the team for 2020. But, I was talking to my friend, another die-hard Mets fan like myself, and he still believed in the team because they had won five out of six after the San Francisco series.
So, I did some research into the Mets schedule to figure out what would need to happen for them to surge back into contention, and I set a goal for the team.
From July 30th-August 7th the Mets had 10 games against the White Sox, Pirates, and Marlins. Before this stretch, the Mets were 50-55. So, I figured they would need to win 8/10, a real possibility against three of the worst teams in baseball.
That is the proof right there, if the Mets could win 8/10 it would be hard not to believe again. Well, they won 9/10 across that stretch, making them 59-56, and put themselves right in the hunt for the Wild Card, and you can believe I bought-in big time.
My friend Tommy and I had texted each other during and/or after every game during that stretch to update how many games the team needed to win, so after they succeeded the first stretch I took a look at the schedule again.
With 48 games left to play, I figured the only way to secure a Wild Card spot would be to win 31 more games and finish with a record of 89-73.
(I set the goal when they had won their eighth game out of nine, so after the 10 game stretch they needed to win 30/47)
Fast forward through the 15/16 wins, the recent six game losing streak, and arguably the most embarrassing loss in franchise history and it is now officially do or die time for the Mets.
They are four and a half games behind the Cubs, who currently hold the second Wild Card spot, and have three other teams ahead of them in the race, with just 23 games to go, but the goal has not changed. The Cubs, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Brewers are all ahead of the Mets for that second Wild Card spot, and they all have been playing well as of late, which likely makes 89 wins the minimum for any of those teams to make playoffs.
Even with six straight losses at home and the mind-blowing loss on Tuesday against the Nationals, the Mets have kept their heads up, winning yesterday to finish with a 4-2 road trip, keeping the glimmer of playoff hopes alive.
At 71-68 with 23 games left, and 17 of them at home, the Mets are going to need to go 18-5 and hope that some of their competitors cool off.
Starting tomorrow, the Mets have a 10 game homestand where they will host the Phillies for three, the Diamondbacks for four, and the Dodgers for three. The Mets are 37-27 at home this season, so luckily for them, they will have that advantage against these three playoff-contending teams, with the Dodgers being the best team in the National League.
On this 10 game stretch, the Mets will need to win 8/10 games, with anything less than that likely ending their season.
Head-to-head against the Phillies and Diamondbacks the Mets match up pretty evenly, so taking six out of seven wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world, especially considering the home-field advantage. Now taking two out of three from the Dodgers is a different story, they have an elite lineup, great defense, a top tier rotation, and a solid bullpen. But, if the Mets can get hot in the first two series of the homestand they might be able to carry that momentum into the Dodgers series, and sneak out two wins.
Winning 8/10 games would put the Mets on the right track, pushing them to a record of 79-70 while beating two teams ahead of them in the race along the way. However, they wouldn’t be out of the woods entirely. They would need to stay hot and win 10/13 games to finish the season. Seven of those games are at home to close out the season, with four against the Marlins and three against the Braves.
Before that though, the Mets have a six game road trip where they travel to Colorado to play the Rockies, and then to Cincinatti to play the Reds. These two teams are among the worst in baseball, the Rockies are the second-worst team in the National League and Cincinatti is the fourth worst.
So even though road trips are never easy, this is as easy as it gets for the Mets. The Mets should be able to take advantage of these two teams that are simply playing games because they have to at this point because that is what playoff teams do. The Mets will need to win five out of six here to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Final Stretch
Now, let’s discuss the seven-game homestand against the Marlins and Braves that I talked about earlier. If all goes as planned, the Mets will be 84-71 and red hot coming into this home stretch. This would mean the Mets just need to win five out of seven games; a simple task considering they will have four games against the worst team in the National League who, similar to the Reds and Rockies, will just want the season to be over with by that point, and then three against a Braves team that will likely rest their best players to prepare for the playoffs.
We do have to remember that these are still division games though, so the Marlins and Braves won’t just rollover. The most likely scenario would be for the Mets to sweep the Marlins, and take one from the Braves.
The Mets have dominated Miami this season, winning 11/15 and with the season on the line, the Mets will throw everything they have at the Marlins.
The Braves on-the-other-hand are an elite team with a scary lineup and a strong starting rotation, so even if they don’t go all out against the Mets, taking the series would be tall task. The Braves have already taken 11/16 against the Mets this season.
If all of this goes according to plan it would be a shock if the Mets didn’t make the playoffs, because that would mean the two Wild Card teams would have won at least 90 games for the first time since this playoff format was put into place.
When you break it all down with an optimistic point of view like I just did winning 18/23 doesn’t seem so scary, but don’t be fooled. This upcoming 10 game homestand is not going to be a walk in the park.
One thing working in the Mets favor is the fact that they are now essentially 100% healthy offensively with Nimmo and Cano back in the fold and producing. The starting rotation also continues to be stellar. But unless Seth Lugo or Justin Wilson is on the mound in a close game late you have to hold your breath, which is a tough thing to do considering that most Mets games are decided by one to two runs.
Along the way, the Mets will need the Cubs to cool off and with 11 of their 24 games left against the division-leading Cardinals and Wild Card contending Brewers, that is definitely possible.
As for the Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Brewers, the Mets are only a game and a half or less behind those three so a stretch like the one I outlined, including series victories over the Phillies and Diamondbacks along the way, would most likely be enough for the Mets to pass them in the standings.
50 years ago on September 3rd, 1969 the Mets were five games behind the Cubs, today on September 5th they are four and a half games back, can they repeat history?
This team has already pulled themselves out from a hole once this season, can they win 8/10 over the next 10 days and restart their charge? I believe, do you?
Also, please enjoy this awesome video SNY made once the Mets stood pat at the trade deadline, using a classic scene from the movie, Major League to paint a valid picture of where the Mets stood at the time, and stand right now. (Link below)