Mets Still Alive And Can Win Wild Card
When the Mets wake up this morning, despite being seven games under .500, they find themselves five games out of the Wild Card and four games in the loss column. By perusing the standings alone, you see reason to believe the Mets are actually alive, but with the team being under .500 and under-performing much of the year, there is reasonable skepticism.
On the skepticism point, while the Mets are five games back, they are behind nine teams for the second Wild Card. One of those teams is the Milwaukee Brewers, who went to Game 7 of the NLCS last year and have the reigning MVP Christian Yelich. Looking at it that way, you see any belief the Mets could compete as fool’s gold.
Looking to the schedule, that may not be the case. After winning four of five on the road to start the All Star Break, the Mets embark on a 20 game stretch against teams under .500. The first three series in that 20 game stretch are teams ahead of them in the Wild Card standings.
First up is the San Francisco Giants. When the two teams played earlier in the year, the Mets took two of three from them. The Mets also have Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom lined up to go in that series. The Giants are red hot right now, but this is also a team who still has a -38 run differential. If they Mets take three out of four in the series, they leap the Giants in the Wild Card standings.
Next up is the San Diego Padres at Citi Field. In that series, the Mets should have Zack Wheeler back from the IL to make a start. Of note, the Padres are struggling of late having lost nine of their last 12 games. Also, when they play the Mets it will be the end of a long nine game road trip for the team. Again, winning two out of three here isn’t a possibility, and with that, the Mets could then leap the Padres in the standings.
After the Padres, the Pirates come to Citi Field. The Pirates have the second worst run differential in the National League. They are currently six games under .500 on the road. So far, May has been their only month over .500, and they are 17-22 since. They only have one active starter with an ERA+ over 100. The Mets should win this series, and they could have the potential to sweep it.
Realistically speaking, over this 10 game stretch, the Mets could go 7-3. If they were to do that, they will have likely jumped the Giants, Padres, and Pirates in the Wild Card standings. That would also put them at 51-54, which is a much better position than they were when they were 60-62 in August in 2016 in a very similarly lumped together Wild Card race where everyone failed to take control of things.
This means the Mets would enter their last series heading into the trade deadline just under .500 and in a much better position to make a run at the Wild Card. That is all the more the case with the Mets next 10 games coming against the White Sox, Pirates, and Marlins. Those are three of the bottom seven teams in the Majors in run differential.
During this same stretch, the Brewers will have a tough schedule having to face the Diamondbacks, Reds, Cubs, and Athletics. The Nationals will face the Braves, Rockies, and Dodgers. The Cardinals will face the Reds, Astros, and Cubs. The Diamondbacks will face the Brewers and the Yankees over the same stretch.
Overall, the point is the National League Wild Card race is WIDE OPEN. The schedule sets itself up for the Mets to make a real run here. By the end of the Mets 20 game stretch against losing teams, it is very possible they will find themselves being in one of the top two Wild Card spots.
While you may want to be skeptical, Syndergaard has reminded us the Mets are a second half team. The schedule has aligned itself for the Mets to be just that and to go on another one of their magical second half runs. Really, at some point Ya Gotta Believe!