The defending National League Champion New York Mets did not exactly have the kind of summer they were expected to have entering this season.
A long list of injuries to both their lineup and their starting pitching staff all but destroyed any hope for the team to repeat as Division Champions, as the Washington Nationals hold a big lead in the National League East with a month left in the season.
However, some recent success has shown that their season is not quite over yet. Although the Mets sat a game under .500 as recently as Aug. 20, they have won 14 of their last 18 games and are currently tied for the second Wild Card spot.
But if the Mets are to reach the postseason again, they’re going to need help from teams around the league. The Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates are also fighting for Wild Card spots that are currently being occupied by the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals, along with the Mets. The only one of these teams the Mets will play for the rest of the season are the Marlins from Sept. 26 to 28. In other words, the Mets don’t really control their own destiny. All they can do is keep winning their games and hope that those teams ahead of them lose theirs.
The Amazin’s do have one big advantage in their schedule though. The Mets have just three more games against teams with a winning record, that being when they play the Nationals from Sept. 12 to 14. However, this could very well prove to be a disadvantage. Teams under .500 in September have nothing to play for other than to spoil the playoff hopes of teams such as the Mets. In fact. New York will play seven more games against the Philadelphia Phillies and six more against the Atlanta Braves. Those are two divisional opponents who used to have intense rivalries with the Mets, and you better believe they would love to help put an end to their playoff push.
Another thing that could prevent the Mets from reaching the playoffs is the uncertainty of the guys who have replaced their injured players. Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have done a great job filling in for Matt Harvey and Steven Matz, but at any moment hitters could figure out how to hit them and the novelty that has made them successful could wear off.
The key to the Mets’ offense is Jay Bruce. He was acquired on Aug. 1 at the trade deadline and has really struggled since joining the team. He is more than capable of being an offensive force, but he really needs to step it up over these final few weeks. It would also help if James Loney and Michael Conforto, who have really been struggling as of late, stepped up their production this month.
There are plenty of factors going against Queens seeing October baseball for the second straight year. But there is also certainly reason to hope. The starting pitching may not be as dominate as we expected, but it is still very good. The offense is not pretty, but they are capable of getting the job done. Not to mention having Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia in the back of the bullpen is a gigantic help. This Mets team definitely has the ability to make it to the postseason. But it’s only a matter of when this recent hot streak will end, be it tomorrow or sometime in October.