Mets Need to Clinch As Soon As Possible
With the Mets beating the Marlins, and the Reds beating the Cardinals, the Mets magic number to claim one of the two Wild Card spots is two. This means the Mets can claim a Wild Card spot as early as Friday or as late as Saturday. It would behoove the Mets to clinch as soon as possible for many reasons.
For starters, there is the issue of their starting pitcher. As it stands right now, Noah Syndergaard is slated to pitch on the regular season finale. In the event the Mets have not wrapped up the Wild Card by then, Terry Collins will have little choice but to throw Syndergaard. You do not want the Mets to miss out on the postseason because you held your ace back for a game that was not yet guaranteed. If the Mets are forced to pitch Syndergaard on Sunday, the Mets choices for the Wild Card Game will be either Bartolo Colon, who has an injured tendon in his right foot, on short rest or the unproven rookies Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. In reality, there is only one pitcher the Mets can trust right now in a winner-take-all game and that is Syndergaard.
Another important reason the Mets need to clinch early is some of their better players need some rest. Asdrubal Cabrera has been the best hitter in all of major league baseball in September. He is also dealing with two knee problems. He has really been dealing with a left knee issue all season and just the other day, he fouled a ball off his right knee. As a result of these injuries, Cabrera has taken up the habit of sliding whenever possible to stop his momentum to keep pressure off his knees. With that in mind, he can certainly use an extra couple of days off. The Mets should want to get them for him too considering how well he has hit since coming off the disabled list.
There is also the issue of Yoenis Cespedes and his injured quad. While he has been much healthier and hitting better than he was while he was hobbled, he has not been the same hot hitting Cespedes Mets fans have grown to love. Since coming off the disabled list he is “only hitting” .269/.346/.522 with nine homers and 26 RBI. These are for sure terrific numbers, but they are not the numbers the Mets have come to expect from Cespedes. An extra couple of days should help him recuperate a little more and get some more of his power back.
The Mets bullpen can also use some time off as well. Right now, Addison Reed has made the third most appearances in the major leagues. The 77 appearances is already a career high for him as are the 74.2 innings pitched. Jeurys Familia has pitched in more games and thrown more innings than any other closer in baseball. Throw in Fernando Salas heavy September workload, and you have a tired 7-8-9 trio heading into the postseason. A couple of days off will certainly do each of these pitchers a lot of good.
Additionally, clinching early will allow the Mets to give an older player like Curtis Granderson a few days of rest before the postseason. It will also allow the Mets to see if Lucas Duda is ready to fully takeover for James Loney at first base. Furthermore, it allows the Mets to play Michael Conforto to get him going to permit him to be as effective a pinch hitter off the bench as possible this postseason.
One or two days may not seem like much to accomplish all of these goals, but it really is. Those days permit the Mets to set up Syndergaard to be ready to pitch, and it gives Cabrera and Cespedes, the Mets two most important hitters right now, time off their feet to be as fresh as possible. As long as the Mets have that, they will not only have a good shot at winning the Wild Card Game, but it will also improve their chances of making a deep run in the postseason.