The National League Is No More Out of Reach than It Was in 2007
After the Mets taking three of four from the Marlins, Mets fans feel much better about their chances of making the postseason. After that sweep, the Mets are now just two games back of the free falling St. Louis Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot, and they are also just four games behind the struggling San Francisco Giants for the top Wild Card spot. While nothing is guaranteed, especially with Neil Walker being definitively done for the season, you have to like the Mets chances of returning to the postseason for a second straight season.
With the Washington Nationals rolling into town, it begs the question – is the National League East really out of reach?
For normal fan bases, the answer would be a definitive no. The current 9.5 game deficit (ten in the loss column) is way too much of a hurdle to overcome in just 28 games. However, Mets fans are the same fans that have seen a team collapse with a seven game lead with 17 games left in the season. With that, Mets fans learned that anything is possible.
For the Mets to win the National League East, a lot of things have to break the right way. With the Mets having six head-to-head matchups, the Mets have a real opportunity to become a factor in the National League East race. If the Mets sweep both series, similar to how they did last August, that 9.5 game deficit becomes a much more manageable 3.5 game deficit (four in the loss column). When viewed through that prism, a 3.5 game deficit is certainly one that can be overcome with 22 games left on the schedule.
It becomes more of a debate if the Mets are only capable of taking four out of the six from the Nationals. In that case, the Mets would the be eight games back in the loss column with 22 games remaining on the schedule. Again, better odds than the seven in 17 route.
In those remaining 22 games, the Mets have 19 games against teams with losing records. Six of those are against a Braves team who are on pace to lose 100 games. Another three are against a Twins team who is also on pace to lose 100 games. Factor in another three games against the Reds who are on pace to lose more than 90 games that’s 12 games against teams that will lose over 90 games this season.
The other team team with a losing record left on the Mets schedule is the Phillies. The Mets have gone 20-9 against the Phillies since the start of the 2015 season. That means the Mets are primed to make up some ground with seven games remaining against the Phillies.
Other than the Nationals, the only team with a winning record on the Mets schedule is the very same Miami Marlins team the Mets just beat three out of four times.
Unfortunately, the Nationals have a very similar schedule to the Mets for the rest of the season. That means if the Mets are going to win the National League East, they are not only going to have to take full advantage of their head-to-head games against the Nationals, and they are going to have to beat up on a really weak September schedule.
The chances of that happening? As we all know, it’s not very good. Fangraphs puts the Mets odds of winning the division at 0.2%. Baseball Prospectus is more optimistic putting the Mets chances at 0.4%. As Lloyd Christmas would say, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance. YEAH!”
In reality, the Mets best chance of returning to the postseason is to get one of the two Wild Card spots. With that said, for a fanbase that saw a seven game lead with 17 games left in the seasons vanish into thin air, we all know no September lead is insurmountable. The Mets have their chance to do the impossible starting tonight with a three game set against the Nationals.