The fate of the Mets’ postseason depends on the outcome of the National League East. With the red-hot Atlanta Braves trailing just one game behind the Amazeen, the possibility of a wild-card series playoff has become very real.
A wild-card series could mean burning out both Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer before a division series matchup — if they make it — against the Dodgers.
The general perception of the Mets’ precarious postseason picture is the possibility of deGrom or Scherzer hitting twice in a row. Losing out on the NL East banner means losing part of the advantage of having two of the best pitchers in baseball in the new playoff format.
The way the postseason schedule is set up this season, there’s no chance that Scherzer or deGrom will get two starts in a division series in regular time off if a wild-card series is played. There’s an option to start one of them on short rest in Game 5, but given the injury history of both Mets aces, that’s not a good scenario.
When you put aside the physical injuries of having to play in the Wild Card series, the success of Wild Card teams in October is poor. Since 2012 – when the wild card game was implemented – only two teams have won the World Series out of that round, the 2014 San Francisco Giants and the 2019 Washington Nationals.
If the Mets want to roll into October the way they envisioned — with deGrom and Scherzer out for the first two games of the shortstop — two things have to change.
Since Aug. 22, the Mets’ lineup has pushed in just 36 runs, which ranks 26th in baseball over that span. With the Braves improving (20-5 in their last 25 games), they need to produce a team that ranks sixth overall in MLB’s amazin’ bats and not rely entirely on starting pitches to throw zeroes.
The other end that needs to change: You can’t lose to teams like the national team – like they did last weekend – because they play a lot of them to finish the season.
The Mets own the weakest remaining strength of schedule in baseball. The rest of their opponents combine for a .427 winning percentage. That includes the three games against the Pirates. However, the Braves’ schedule isn’t far behind the Mets, as they combine for a .480 winning percentage against the 20th strongest remaining schedule.
If the Mets don’t take down the Pirates, they’ll be looking up at the Braves this weekend when they head to Miami. Atlanta holds the Athletics in the AL West sewer.
Three days to circle on the Mets calendar are September 30th, October 1st and October 2nd. A three-game series in Atlanta that is the second-to-last series of the year. The outcome of that series could determine Amazon’s chances of winning the Commissioner’s Cup in November.