The Mets have made it to August with a 3.5 game lead. The next three weeks will be the determining stretch on where the Mets end up. They play 18 of their next 21 games against the better teams in the league, including nine against Atlanta, seven against Philadelphia and two against the Yankees. The remaining three are against Cincinnati.
This stretch can spell disaster against the Braves. The Mets made an effort at the trade deadline to bolster weak areas, and that should improve the offense. Most importantly, Jacob deGrom returned this week, and pitched strong, hitting his top speeds, and throwing a lot of strikes and striking out lots of hitters.
Nonetheless, the Mets still have some injuries slowing the team down. Tomas Nido as an everyday catcher is bad news. The bullpen has given up a fistful of home runs of late. The key will be pulling the right lever at the right time, which still hasn’t been Buck Showalter’s skill this season. Getting from the starters, who have been excellent, to Edwin Diaz, who has been excellent, is the Mets only real weakness.
The best news of the season comes after this 21-game stretch. After the last Yankee game on August 23, the Mets have a homestretch of 37 games where they play nine games against teams with anything close to a winning record. Twenty-eight games with some of the worst teams in the league – Rockies, Pirates, Cubs, Marlins, A’s, and Nationals. Even if the Mets stumble a little over the next three weeks, there is an oasis on the other side of the gauntlet.
Looking back at the previous two months, did the Mets swoon in June?
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Are the Mets a true talent level in the .650 range? Well, in June, the Mets faced top tier opponents fourteen times, and their record reflected that. The Mets went 5-9 against the good teams. They had lost Scherzer and no deGrom, as well as offensive injuries. That’s the bad news for the coming storm. On the other hand, collectively, the Mets are 15-6 against the upcoming trio. That’s why they play the games.
One of the more frustrating aspects of the trade deadline was seeing Josh Bell and Trey Mancini go to other contenders, and the Mets dumping J.D. Davis for a platoon player minimally more effective and dumped some minor leaguers at the same time.
Had GM Billy Eppler been a subscriber, he may have gotten the message to act a month earlier, perhaps paying less for better DH options. When GMs get graded, ones with the foresight to address the team’s gaps earlier in the season will always be rewarded. As Brian Joura pointed out earlier this week, the platoon is strong. It also eats an extra roster space, with two non-fielders.
Dan Szymborski posted new playoff odds based on the trades made at the deadline, and the Mets lost two percentage points to the Braves. The Mets playoff odds are still practically 100%, but winning the division enhances the chances of advancing. They have the team to do it, but some lightning in a bottle would be nice.