Since the cavalry arrived in the form of – in order of appearance – Yoenis Cespedes, Steven Matz and Seth Lugo, the Mets are 3-0. And the reinforcements couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Mets are ready to embark on the toughest part of their schedule. The next 11 games come against playoff teams in 2016 in the Cubs, Nationals and Dodgers. The Nationals are leading their division now, the Dodgers are the first Wild Card team and everyone expects the Cubs to win the Central when it’s all said and done.
The Mets? Who knows what to expect from them. You hear people say they should be selling parts off – even saw an article that said they should shop Reed. I’m not ready to do that. The situation looks bleak right now. But this is the healthiest they’ve been all year. Besides, they’ve still got 101 games to play.
Last year the Mets got off to a fine start, played .500 or so ball for a long time after that and then had a 10-20 stretch. On August 19, they were 60-62 and of course they finished with 87 wins. Now, the idea isn’t that they’ll win games at the pace they did in late August and September of last year. Rather the important thing to keep in mind is that it’s better to be five games under .500 with 101 games to play than it is to be two games under .500 with 42 game remaining.
Winning cures everything. And now we get to see just how much winning can the club do when the competition gets stiffer. If the Mets go 2-9 in these next 11, perhaps it will be time to investigate the trade market for Reed and others. But if the Mets go 8-3, well that’s a whole different ball game. Likely they’ll finish closer to .500 which leaves things in the same muddled state we have right now.
A pessimist will point to 11 fewer games and no closer to playoff contention. And even if the club did make the playoffs, there’s no reason to expect an outcome any different than what happened in the Wild Card game last year.
Man, I hate pessimists.
The optimist will think if they can play close to .500 against the cream of the crop that they’ll be able to clean up against the dregs. And there will still be 90 games left to make a move.
Of course the biggest reason to be an optimist is the performance of the starting pitchers the last five games. Those five starters have combined for 32.2 IP and only 3 ER. They’ve given quality and aside from Matt Harvey’s outing they’ve given quantity, too. It’s not realistic to expect this pace to hold. But it wasn’t realistic to expect only four games out of 20 that the starter would post a Game Score over 50 but that happened for the Mets earlier this year.
So, what do the Mets have in store? The Cubs have pitching problems of their own. They have six starters who’ve made at least six starts and none of them have an ERA below Eddie Butler’s 4.03 mark. Jon Lester’s at 4.13, Jake Arrieta is at 4.46 and John Lackey’s at 5.12 for the season. The bullpen’s been solid but the offense hasn’t been as potent as 2016, either.
The Nationals have lost three in a row and their bullpen is more of a mess than the Mets’. And in their last seven games, they’ve scored just 19 runs. The Dodgers are a different story, as they’re in good shape right now, sitting at 20 games over .500 and featuring two dominant starting pitchers and an elite bullpen. You expect Clayton Kershaw to excel and with a 2.20 ERA, he’s doing just that. But Alex Wood is 6-0 with a 2.01 ERA and his 1.84 FIP suggests he isn’t doing it with smoke and mirrors.
So, there you go. How will the Mets do in three games against the Cubs and four against both the Nationals and Dodgers?