An amazing thing about Major League Baseball is that after 152 games there’s still so much uncertainty. From who will make the playoffs, to who will win awards and even which coaches might keep their jobs, there’s a lot at stake. At this juncture, the Mets have a puncher’s chance at a wildcard and two players battling for awards and records. Plus, there’s the standings, stats and a host of other things that will be resolved by the end of the month. Here’s a look.
With 10 games left to play, the Mets record stands at 79-73. The NL East is locked up by the Braves, the NL West by the Dodgers, and the Cardinals are leading the NL Central by three games over the Cubs and resurgent Brewers. Those two teams, as well as the Nationals, Mets, Phillies and Diamondbacks are battling for the two wild card spots. As of this writing (Thursday) the Nationals are in the top wild card spot and the Cubs and Brewers are tied for the second with the Mets and Phillies three games back and the Diamondbacks 4.5 games back.
The remaining schedule is most favorable to the Mets (Red, Marlins, and post-clinch Braves). The Nationals and Phillies each have a remaining three-game set with the wild card contending Indians, as well as a five-game death cage match with each other that could set them both back. The Brewers have a seemingly easy remaining slate of games against the Pirates, Reds and Rockies, but six of those are on the road. The Cubs have an unfortunate blip in their scheduling that will have them playing seven of the last 10 against the division leading Cardinals. The Diamondbacks have a similar blip that will have them playing two of their last three series against the Padres with the other series against the Cardinals.
The chips can fall a number of ways. If the Mets have a miracle in them and can run the table on our last 10 and finish with 89 wins we’re as good as in. Nine out of 10 for an 88-win finish is likely good enough for a wild card as well. Seven or eight wins might give us an outside shot, but anything less than 7-3 in the last 10 will likely end our season on September 29 as scheduled.
Awards, Stats and Records
A month ago, Jeff McNeil was in the lead for the batting title. Then he suffered an injury and re-emerged as a power hitter. Visions of Daniel Murphy. The good news is that the flying squirrel now has 22 home runs. The downside is that his batting average has dipped to .318 – still among the league leaders, but likely too far back of Anthony Rendon (.330), Ketel Marte (.329) and Christian Yelich (locked in at .329 since he’s out for the remainder of the season).
His buddy Pete Alonso, on the other hand, is leading not just the league, but the Majors with 49 home runs. He already has the Mets single season record in his pocket. Also at stake is the league lead and the Major League rookie home run record of 52 held by Aaron Judge. Hitting four more home runs in his last 10 games is a tough goal to reach and one that will be fun to cheer for. Even if he falls short, he’s a lock for NL Rookie of the Year and will likely be the first Met to ever slug 50 home runs in the season. Pretty amazing. Alonso may also garner a few MVP votes, but the front runners this year – Cody Bellinger, Rendon, Yelich, Marte, Freddie Freeman, Nolan Arenado, et al are very strong.
Speaking of things no Met has ever accomplished, Jacob deGrom has a legitimate shot to take home his second consecutive Cy Young Award. Though his 2019 season hasn’t been quite as dominant as last year, he leads the league in WHIP and strikeouts and sits at third in ERA, fifth in innings pitched, and fourth in BAA. Once again, his team has failed to give him the run support needed to join the league leaders in wins, but if he can win one of his last two starts he’ll reach the same number of wins as last year and that was good enough for the trophy. Among his competition are starters who don’t have enough innings and/or strikeouts (Hyun-Jin Ryu, Max Scherzer, Mike Soroka, Dakota Hudson, Clayton Kershaw) or too high an ERA (Stephen Strasburg, Max Fried, Luis Castillo, Patrick Corbin, Aaron Nola, Jack Flaherty). A few dark horse candidates, should they finish strong, include Walker Beuller and Sonny Gray. If deGrom finishes strong, he should add a second brass trophy to his mantle.
Just as the Mets are battling with the Nationals and Phillies for the wildcards, likewise they are battling in the NL East standings. Presently, the Mets and Phillies are in a virtual tie for third place with Atlanta atop the division, the Marlins in the basement and the Nationals comfortably in second place. Though a five-game set with the Phillies could change that. The Mets could finish anywhere from second to fourth in the division, depending on how this last week and a half shakes out. Best case scenario, the Mets finish in second place and grab a wild card. Worst case, we finish in fourth with a record below .500. Where and how we finish will most certainly impact the front office’s decision on whether to bring back Manager Mickey Callaway. Despite the criticism he’s received from fans and media about his in-game decision-making, it will be hard to justify firing an under-contract manager who’s team finishes strong and either sneaks into the playoffs or even just misses in the last few days of the season. Most likely, we finish in third with 86 wins and just miss the playoffs, but with a lot of positives to build off of heading into the off-season. Miracles can happen and have for this franchise. LFGM!