The Mets did enough in their series with the Phillies, winning two of three games, to remain alive in the chase for the playoffs. With 10 games remaining, they are 23-27 and are one of eight teams fighting for the four-remaining spots in the postseason. The Braves, Cubs, Dodgers and Padres have either clinched or essentially clinched a spot at this point of the schedule. That leaves the second-place spots in the East and Central, along with two Wild Card spots. Let’s look at the road ahead for our eight teams, noting record, location and doubleheaders.
Marlins (25-23) – 5 vs. Nationals (2 DH), 4 @ Braves, 3 @ Yankees
Giants (25-24) – 3 @ A’s, 4 vs. Rockies, 4 vs. Padres (1 DH)
Reds (25-26) – 3 vs. White Sox, 3 vs. Brewers, 3 @ Twins
Phillies (24-25) – 4 vs. Blue Jays (1 DH), 4 vs Nationals (1 DH), 3 @ Rays
Cardinals (22-24) – 4 @ Pirates (1 DH), 3 @ Royals, 5 vs. Brewers (1 DH)
Brewers (23-26) – 3 @ Royals, 3 @ Reds, 5 @ Cardinals (1 DH)
Mets (23-27) – 3 vs. Braves, 3 vs. Rays, 4 @ Nationals
Rockies (22-27) – 3 vs. Dodgers, 4 @ Giants, 4 @ D’Backs (1 DH)
What stands out from the above information?
It’s a little surprising to me that with three teams from the East and Central still involved and two teams from the West that we don’t have more head-to-head series remaining. The three teams from the East are done playing each other and only the Brewers have two series remaining against teams in the hunt. The Marlins could theoretically win all 12 of their remaining games and it would have zero impact on the playoff race. They currently are the second team in the East and if they win out, nothing would change.
The Mets and Reds are the only teams among our eight challengers not to have a scheduled doubleheader remaining. And right now, the Cardinals have two down the stretch yet that only brings their total number of games played to 58. They still have two games with the Tigers, that presumably they would play on the Monday between the last scheduled day of the season and the beginning of the playoffs. There have been 31 doubleheaders played so far this year, with 16 of those ending in a split. My guess is that there would have been more splits; still, there’s no doubt that a doubleheader has the potential to wreck your pitching staff.
The Rockies have the hardest row to hoe. They have to go up three times against the best team in the league and then go on the road to play four games in San Francisco against a solid Giants club and then finish up with four more on the road, including a doubleheader. As Mets fans, we root for them to get swept by the Dodgers and then turn around and take the series against the Giants.
It’s hard to know who to root for to take second place in the Central. The Reds are in the lead but they have a tough schedule, at least on paper. The White Sox have the best record in the AL and have wrapped up a playoff spot. But they haven’t clinched their division, as the Twins currently sit with a 31-21 record, three games behind. But the Twins just finished losing three in a four-game series to the White Sox. Does that mean that both of those AL Central teams are more interested in setting up their team for the playoffs, rather than winning a game against an NL foe?
We could root for the Brewers to sweep the Reds and dominate the Cardinals. If that happens, they claim the second spot in the Central and probably eliminate the Cardinals from further consideration. But we could also root for the Reds to sweep the Brewers and then have Milwaukee and St. Louis beat up on each other.
And as weird as it may seem, the Mets’ best chance might be to take second place in the East. The Marlins have to play two doubleheaders in three days and then finish the year with a schedule that does them no favors, matching up on the road against the Braves and Yankees. The Marlins will have to win games in the Bronx, where the Yankees are 21-7 this season. Plus, the Marlins have a negative run differential, with 214 runs scored and 236 runs allowed, which certainly doesn’t feel like a team that will finish the year on a strong note.
After watching the Phillies the last three days, it just seems like they’re done. Their bullpen is unbelievably bad, with an NL-worst 7.17 ERA. And while they have a strong 1-2 punch at the top of their starting rotation, it’s not like they can count on deep outings from the other starters. With Rhys Hoskins out for the year, their offense has been dealt a big blow. If Joe Girardi can pull a winning record out of these last 11 games for Philadelphia, he should get another Manager of the Year Award.
The Mets, too, have a tough remaining schedule but at least that doesn’t put them in a worse spot compared to the Marlins and Phillies. It appears they’ll have to tread water against the Braves and Rays and clean up against the Nationals. Does a 6-4 mark do it for them? That would leave them with a 29-31 record.
That means the Marlins would have to go 4-8 to finish with the same record. The Mets went 6-4 against the Marlins and hold the tiebreaker. But, as they went 4-6 against the Phillies, they need to finish with a better record than Philadelphia. Which means if the Mets go 6-4, the Phillies would need to go 4-7 to finish with a 28-32 ledger and give the Mets the advantage.
A quick Google search did not show the answer as to how a 3-way tie would be resolved. Assuming that it’s head-to-head-to-head records, the Marlins would come out on top, as they had an 11-9 record, while the Mets were 10-10 and the Phillies were 9-11. In the unlikely event that they use the 3-way records to eliminate the bottom team, that would take out the Phillies. And the Mets would then win based on their head-to-head with the Marlins. But that seems like a single-digit probability.