Rene Rivera

Mets Entering Spring Training Incomplete

Finally, after an eventful winter, even by Mets standards, pitchers and catchers report tomorrow. While the Mets may have an idea as to what their 26 man roster will be, that doesn’t mean this organization is truly ready for the 2020 season.

First and foremost, they need a third everyday outfielder. Perhaps, that could be Yoenis Cespedes, but no one really knows what, if anything, he can contribute.

The Mets may plan to play J.D. Davis out there, and he could possibly platoon with Dominic Smith. Neither situation is ideal with both ideally being first baseman.

Even with Dellin Betances and presumably Michael Wacha, you’d ideally want one more big arm in the bullpen, especially when you can’t be sure what you’re getting with Jeurys Familia or Edwin Diaz. That leaves the Mets hoping either they or likely Robert Gsellman can be that guy.

This speaks to overall depth issues. While there enough bodies, we don’t know if they’re the right or good enough ones. We see that with Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera battling for the backup catcher spot.

Part of that money, which, of course, goes back to the ownership issue. We’ve known for over a decade now the Mets needed new owners, but only now do they realize that themselves.

Of course, they won’t go quietly into the night trying to get to run the Mets for five years with someone else’s money. Maybe their best argument to any new owner is they did that effectively in 2006.

Overall, this is a Mets team which could win the World Series. However, it’s going to need some help to get there and a lot to break right. If they get there, no one should bet against Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in the postseason.

That’s an odd thing to say considering this time last year we were promised no more ifs.

Why We Remain Mets Fans Despite The Wilpons

The Wilpons are the worst owners in professional sports, and based on their turning down over a billion in profit, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. With them and their equally incompetent General Manager, there is a sense of despair and/or anger which comes with being a Mets fan. Still, even with the Wilpons being horrible and their not going anywhere, there are reasons to still root for this team:

Pete Alonso – Rookie Home Run King who got the entire team cleats to honor the first responders of 9/11

Dellin Betances – he waited for the opportunity and came back to sign with the Mets because he wanted to stay in New York

Brad Brach – like you and me, he was wearing a Mets jersey rooting for them to win the 2015 World Series (even if he was an Oriole)

Robinson Cano – a truly charitable person who is working to stop domestic violence

Michael Conforto – willing to play any position to help the team, and when he’s hitting there’s few better

Jacob deGrom – the best pitcher in baseball

Edwin Diaz – it takes a big man to admit he had problems with the city making it easy to root for him to be dominant again.

Jeurys Familia – he came back here because he loves being a Met

Luis Guillorme – when finally given a real chance, he proved he can do much more than catch an errant bat.

Robert Gsellman – despite injury did all he could do to come back to try to pitch the Mets into the postseason like he did in 2016

Jed Lowrie – did everything he could give last year and earned those eight PH attempts

Seth Lugo – the best reliever in baseball

Steven Matz – a true blue Mets fan like us all who works to thank and help first responders

Jeff McNeil – a true throwback player who adopts puppies

Tomas Nido – strong defensive catcher who underwent elective surgery to improve his game.

Brandon Nimmo – his joy in baseball and life is only surpassed by his ability to get on base

Rick Porcello – took less to fulfill his boyhood dream of pitching for the Mets

Wilson Ramos – his learning his wife was pregnant with their next child was one of the most heartwarming parts of the 2019 season

Rene Rivera – keeps coming back to work with this pitching staff

Amed Rosario – as hardworking and exciting a player as there is, and he’s about to breakout.

Paul Sewald – a 10th round draft pick who proves himself in his scattered and limited chances

Dominic Smith – got healthy and proved himself to be a good baseball player and terrific teammate

Marcus Stroman – wants baseball to be fun, and he’s a role model to everyone showing it takes heart to be a great player (HDMH)

Noah Syndergaard – he’s standing 60′ 6″ away, and he’s the last Mets pitcher to win a World Series game.

Justin Wilson – pitched through injury to be a very reliable bullpen arm

Ultimately, even with the cheaters on the roster, this remains a very likeable team, and it is guided by a manager in Luis Rojas who Mets fans should soon love. It is hard to stay away from players like this even with their playing for absolutely despicable ownership.

When you account for Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling, the Mets broadcasts are unparalleled in their greatness. If nothing else, it is worth watching them do what they do best. It is even better when the Mets have players on the field like they will in 2020.

Combine that with wanting to share baseball with your parents, siblings, and children, and you are going to watch a team you have loved all your life. Ultimately, this is an easy team to root for, which unfortunately, is why boycotts never work, and why the Wilpons will always win.

That’s fine. We can still enjoy life and Mets baseball despite them. We can also make every effort we can to get rid of them and to let them know how much we want them gone. Sooner or later, they will be gone, and we will still be here.

Lets Go Mets!

Three Backup Catching Options Mets Should Pursue

According to reports, the New York Mets are currently looking to upgrade their bullpen and backup catcher situation. While Tomas Nido was a strong defensive catcher, he had just a 40 wRC+, which probably necessitates this search.

Ideally, whomever the Mets acquire can offer the Nido’s defensive abilities while also providing a better bat. Also, given the Mets shoestring budget, the player they acquire is likely going to have to be cheap. Here are five catchers who should meet those requirements:

Kevin Plawecki

The mention of Plawecki may not excite Mets fans who had grown exacerbated with his never quite fulfilling his offensive potential. Even with his offensive struggles in Cleveland, Plawecki’s 63 wRC+ was far better than Nido’s. If he reverts to the catcher who had a 10.8% walk rate and 96 OPS+ in his final three years with the Mets all the better.

Another factor with Plawecki is he has historically been a strong pitch framer. As noted by Baseball Savant, Plawecki was a strong pitch framer on the lower half of the plate. That is of no small significance with a pitching staff which includes Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Jeurys Familia, and Edwin Diaz.

Of note with Syndergaard, who had his issues with Wilson Ramos, his 5.33 K/BB with Plawecki behind the plate is the best mark he has had with any catcher not named Rene Rivera.

Russell Martin

On the topic of the Mets pitchers who need the low strike to succeed, there was a Grantland article which described Martin’s strong framing, which included his exceptional work on the lower half of the zone. While he is not the same framer he was in his prime, he is still one of the better framers in the lower part of the zone getting a called strike a little over 50% of the time.

In addition to framing the low strike, Martin had a strong offensive season for a backup catcher with an 83 wRC+. However, it should be noted that was part of a three year drop off offensively, and he is 36 years old. Still, Martin is a respected veteran presence, and that should not be underestimated.

If the Mets do change course and go with the personal catcher route, it would be much more palatable to Ramos and the clubhouse for the Mets to defer to a catcher of Martin’s stature than it probably was with Nido last year. Overall, this should help the clubhouse and the pitching staff. Speaking of saving the pitching staff, Martin can be relied upon as a reliever in blow out games.

Jason Castro

With the Mets hiring Jeremy Hefner as the pitching coach, the organization is looking for an advanced analytical approach to help bring the pitching staff to bring them to the next level. This requires the implementation of a new organizational philosophy across the board. That process could be helped along by the Mets bringing in Castro, who worked with Hefner in Minnesota.

In addition to his knowledge of what Hefner is looking to do, Castro is a strong framer, and like aforementioned catchers, he is strong in the lower parts of the zone. He is also exceptional at getting the corners. Unlike the aforementioned catchers, he was an above average league hitter with a 103 wRC+.

On that note, it was the highest mark he had in six years, and it was just the second time in the past decade he was an above-average league hitter. Of course, some of the impact to that is the ball which was much maligned last year. Despite that, Castro is still a good hitter for the position with strong framing metrics.

Looking beyond these three, it is difficult to find a catcher who would fulfill the criteria of being a better hitter than Nido as well as a strong framer, especially in the lower half of the zone. The framing in the lower half of the zone really needs to be a focus for this Mets team given their pitchers and in their attempts to find a complement to Ramos.

Other popular names like Martin Maldonado may not come as cheap, and others like a Francisco Cervelli do not have the lower half framing numbers you want. Those three catchers should be the overall upgrade at a cheap cost over Nido, who the Mets may very well lose as he is out of options.

 

Mickey Callaway Screwed Up, Brodie Van Wagenen Screwed Up More

The New York Mets completely blew it last night. Behind that loss was a a number of players failing. Todd Frazier couldn’t get a hit in two key RBI situations. Steven Matz allowed a grand slam. Brad Brach failed to cover first in time. There’s obviously more.

Behind the players failing was a number of questionable to flat out indefensible decisions from Mickey Callaway.

Callaway should not have let Matz face Jorge Alfaro. With the team having zero margin for error, you cannot use Walker Lockett under any circumstance. There’s no saving the top arms in the bullpen to fight for another day because if you lose, there isn’t going to be another day.

There were other decisions like not starting Brandon Nimmo or allowing Michael Conforto to bat against Brian Moran. You could also question using Rajai Davis as a pinch hitter in the sixth over Nimmo. To be fair, these decisions were mitigated by Juan Lagares going 1-for-3 with a run and a walk, and Amed Rosario hitting a grand slam.

The pinch hitting decisions were mitigated by the actual options available. Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera are not good hitters. Jed Lowrie hasn’t had a hit in his limited pinch hitting appearances, and he has just one right-handed at-bat all year. That’s it for the right-handed bench options against the left-handed pitching the Marlins had out there in the form of Caleb Smith and Moran.

It certainly makes you question why the Mets never made a roster move to add Dilson Herrera to the roster. After all, they lost Eric Hanhold so they can have Chris Mazza and Donnie Hart on the roster, neither of whom have pitched one meaningful inning in September.

Taking that into consideration, you have to look at the bullpen again. Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson are the only reliable arms down there. You can trust Brach against right-handed batters but not left, and vice versa for Luis Avilan. After that, it’s a straight roll of the dice. Sadly, it’s a heavily weighted pair of dice putting the odds stacked against the Mets.

Reliever ERA
Jeurys Familia 6.00
Drew Gagnon 8.74
Walker Lockett 7.66
Tyler Bashlor 7.65
Paul Sewald 4.67
Chris Mazza 6.43
Brad Brach 3.95
Daniel Zamora 5.63
Donnie Hart 0.00

Look at those ERAs again. Lockett wasn’t even the worst ERA available in the bullpen last night. He wasn’t the only one with an ERA over 5.00. In fact, taking away the top two relievers, there were only three relievers with an ERA under that mark, and one of those, Hart, has only pitched 1.0 innings.

Put aside for a moment the Mets entered the season with Tim Peterson in the bullpen putting the team 1-2 relievers short to start the season. At the trade deadline, the Mets went out and got Marcus Stroman, and they didn’t back it up with another move. Sure, they got Brach, but he fell into their laps. It wasn’t a proactive move on the Mets part.

The bench has always been an issue too. We have seen the Mets cycle through Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, Carlos Gomez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Ruben Tejada while rage cutting Travis d’Arnaud. Again, the Mets did little to address this at the trade deadline with Joe Panik falling into their laps like Brach did.

This team was ill constructed from the get-go, and for some reason when the Mets doubled down at the trade deadline, they did nothing to fix their two biggest problems – the bench and the bullpen.

Now, it’s possible a very good manager like Terry Francona or Bruce Bochy could’ve navigated their way around these problems, but we know Callaway couldn’t. The Mets knowing that and handing him a roster which feeds into his deficiencies as a manager makes what Brodie Van Wagenen did all the worse.

So, yes, Callaway screwed up yesterday, and he has screwed up in other spots. But make no mistake, this was largely the result of the roster he was given. For that, Brodie Van Wagenen should shoulder the blame he was absolutely unwilling to accept earlier in the year.

What Needs To Happen For The Mets To Get The Wild Card

The New York Mets are somehow just three games out of the loss column for the second Wild Card. For that matter, they are four games out of the top Wild Card spot. With 10 games remaining in the season, that gives the Mets a viable albeit an outside chance to get the Wild Card.

What helps the Mets is the remaining schedules.

Starting tonight, the Mets play a three game set against the Cincinnati Reds. Now, the Reds have proved feisty of late having taken four out of six from the Diamondbacks and Cubs to deliver real damage to their respective Wild Card hopes. They also have ace starter Luis Castillo lined up for this series.

What mitigates against Castillo is the fact he’s facing Jacob deGrom. In fact, it is the Mets rotation which really sets them up for success in this series with Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz to pitch after him. It should also help the Mets that their bullpen is fairly well rested and pitching well of late.

After the Reds, the Mets have a four game set against the Marlins who have been terrible in the second half. That has been the case of late with them losing 10 of their past 13. They’re a bad team, and the Mets should absolutely sweep them. This means at a minimum, the Mets should go 6-1 over this stretch of seven games heading into the final weekend. If the Mets really have designs on claiming a Wild Card spot, they should really go 7-0.

While the Mets are hopefully taking advantage of this opportunity, the Cubs are going to first be playing a four game set against the Cardinals. As we saw last night, that didn’t go so well for them. The Mets need to hope for more of that as the Cubs have the Pirates next, and as we have seen, the Pirates are an unmitigated disaster being almost the equivalent of a forfeit victory right now. Of course, after the Pirates, it is right back to the Cardinals, which puts the Cubs on the brink.

The other NL Central team the Mets are chasing are the Milwaukee Brewers. Even with Christian Yelich done for the year and Lorenzo Cain dealing with an ankle injury, the Brewers schedule is far too easy with their final nine games coming against the Reds, Pirates, and Rockies. Even with the Reds playing well and the Rockies looking game right now, it is hard to imagine they fall back with that schedule.

That brings up the Nationals. They have lost four out of their last six to come back to the pack a bit. However, they have the opportunity to get back on track with a three game set in Miami. After that, things get more difficult.

While they have handled the Phillies well all year, the Phillies are still fighting for a Wild Card spot, and they are sure to give the Nationals all they have. After that, the Nationals finish the season with the Cleveland Indians, who are in a dog fight for one of the two AL Wild Card spots. The way things are shaking up that final series of the season can prove to be an elimination series for one of these two teams.

With respect to Mets, they need to enter the final series of the season putting themselves in a position to capitalize if one of the aforementioned teams should falter, and it’s possible they will.

The Cubs have six remaining against the Cardinals. The Brewers are without their two best players. The Nationals have the Phillies and Indians.

As for the Mets, they really just need to keep out of their own way entering the final series of the season against the Atlanta Braves. Should they do that, the Mets may very well be in a position to claim a Wild Card by beating the Braves. Based upon the season series and past history, Mets fans have reason to shudder and be pessimistic.

Then again, the Braves will have nothing to play for, and the Mets have overcome far worse than a three game set against the Braves. With the Mets having Matz, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard (hopefully with Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera), you have to like the Mets chances.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Somehow Still Alive

Somehow, the Mets were able to pull off a minor miracle by not just pulling out a victory but somehow also pulling to withing three games of the Cubs and Brewers for the second Wild Card with 10 games remaining in the season:

1. Mickey Callaway not pinch hitting any one of Luis Guillorme, Joe Panik, J.D. Davis, or Wilson Ramos for Rene Rivera with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth was easily the worst decision of his tenure as the Mets manager. There is zero plausible explanation for it, and if the Mets lost that game, he would have merited the Willie Randolph treatment. It was that bad.

2. As it turned out, Ramos and Davis did get their chance to pinch hit, and they delivered by setting up runners at the corners for Brandon Nimmo to deliver the game tying base-hit. It was easily the biggest hit of Nimmo’s career, and it was another indication just how special a player he is.

3. After Jeff McNeil had a great at-bat to draw a walk, you could see Joe Harvey wanted no part of Pete Alonso walking him on four pitches. With Alonso hitting his 49th homer earlier in the game tying Mark McGwire‘s first base rookie home run record, you could understand why. In any event, it gave the Mets a 5-4 lead in a game the Mets won 7-4.

4. Seth Lugo delivering an RBI single in that ninth inning was the most passive aggressive way to show the Mets he should be in the starting rotation. How could you not help but love the guy?

5. No, Syndergaard was not good yesterday, but to pass judgment on one start in Coors Field is absurd. After all, are we going to say Max Scherzer isn’t any good and the Nationals need to trade him because he has a 5.88 career ERA at Coors.

6. On the topic of Scherzer, his getting roughed up by the Cardinals only strengthens Jacob deGrom‘s Cy Young case.

7. There is far too much evidence in the pitcher heat maps and the framing abilities of the Mets three catchers where we know Rivera and Tomas Nido make a real difference behind the plate. One start in the most difficult place to pitch in all of baseball doesn’t undo that.

8. On the topic of baseless narratives, the Mets didn’t cave to Syndergaard. It was a day game after a night game. The Mets would’ve sat Mike Piazza or Gary Carter.

9. We finally got a glimpse of how good a pitcher Marcus Stroman is. His seven shutout innings showed not just the reason why the Mets added him at the trade deadline, but it also showed just how much of a big game pitcher he is. His next two starts should be something special.

10. Steven Matz finally had that meltdown inning he had avoided all second half. That six run inning cost the Mets a chance of winning that game. Overall, we should not read too much into it as it is Coors Field, and he has been just that good of late.

11. In July and August, when the Mets saved their season going from 10 games under to the thick of the Wild Card race, Michael Conforto was their best player (1.6 fWAR highest among Mets position players). In September, he has completely fallen apart hitting .150/.239/.283. The team desperately needs him to get back on track.

12. When Todd Frazier was hit on the hand, it appeared his Mets career was effectively over. Fortunately, he has been able to play after a few days off, and he has contributed going 2-for-6 with an RBI and two walks in addition to his good defense over the last two games.

13. To the shock of everyone, Jeurys Familia came into the game yesterday, and with runners on second and third, he struck out Ryan McMahon to keep the game at 4-2 allowing the Mets to make that comeback.

14. If the Mets are going to pull this off, they are going to need relievers like Familia to step up because the team cannot only rely on Lugo and Justin Wilson. On that front, the Mets bullpen did acquit itself well in this series allowing just five runs over 11.1 innings (3.97 ERA).

15. The Mets designated Eric Hanhold, a promising young reliever, for assignment, and he was claimed by the Baltimore Orioles. Instead of keeping him, the Mets replaced him on the 40 man roster with Donnie Hart, who has yet to pitch in September, and they kept Chris Mazza, who has a 6.43 ERA and has pitched just once this month. That’s an example of just how incompetent Brodie Van Wagenen is.

16. Jed Lowrie finally got on base drawing a walk making him 0-3 with a walk this year.

17. Perhaps the Mets player who came up biggest in this series was Amed Rosario. He was 2-for-4 in the first two games, and he hit the key homer on Tuesday giving the Mets life. Overall, this was just the latest example on how he is figuring things out, and he is going to be a big part of the Mets going forward.

18. Say what you will about the Rockies, but that team can play defense. In fact, between their being great defensively, and the Mets not being good defensively, the Rockies almost pulled out this series. That would have been a disaster.

19. The Mets owe a debt of gratitude to the Padres and Reds for pulling out those wins last night. It is still an uphill climb, but three back in 10 games is possible.

20. The Mets still being alive this late in the season is a miracle. They may still have to run the table, and they have the schedule to do it. However, that still may not be enough. That makes this all just a fascinating end to this season. We should all continue to enjoy the ride.

Mets Rally To Save Season

This was shaping up to be one of those games that not only gets everyone fired. It was also a game which would lead to fans looking to tar and feather everyone. It was going to be that maddening a loss.

Noah Syndergaard struggled in his first start ever at Coors Field, and he made matters worse not holding on base runners. For reasons beyond explanation, Mickey Callaway allowed Rene Rivera to bat with bases loaded and two outs in the sixth with the Mets down 3-2.

The Mets offense had been shut down by Jeff Hoffman, a pitcher with a career 6.21 ERA and a 7.03 ERA this year. This was part of the them of how the bad Rockies pitching inexplicably shut down the Mets offense in a hitter’s paradise.

As the Mets entered the ninth down 4-3, you wondered if Callaway would get the same treatment Willie Randolph once did. Well, it’s not happening because the Mets had a rally to save their season and perhaps more than that.

After getting the Rockies out of an eighth inning jam, Bud Black opted to stick with Jairo Diaz to close out the game.

Wilson Ramos, who wasn’t used as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning, led off the inning with a pinch hit walk before getting lifted for Juan Lagares. J.D. Davis, another player who wasn’t used in the sixth, had a pinch hit single putting runners at the corners with no outs. That was the situation for Brandon Nimmo, who delivered the biggest hit of the year:

Jeff McNeil then had a great at-bat. He battled from down 0-2 to draw a walk in a nine pitch at-bat. That would be it for Diaz as the Rockies brought Joe Harvey to get them out of this jam.

Problem is Harvey wanted no part of Pete Alonso, who had hit his 49th homer of the year earlier in the game. Harvey walked Alonso on four pitches, none of which we particularly close giving the Mets a 5-4 lead.

The Rockies caught a bit of a break with Robinson Cano hitting into a 6-4-3 double play, but it should be noted a run scored on the play increasing the Mets lead to 6-4.

At that point, it appeared the inning should be over. After all, Seth Lugo was due up, and with the state of the Mets bullpen, there was a less than zero chance he was coming out of the game. Well, as it turned out, there was no need to pinch hit for him:

The Mets were once on the verge of complete collapse with multiple heads about to roll. Instead, they’d win this game 7-4 in the most improbable fashion. Even better, with the Brewers losing, they gained a game on them in the Wild Card standings.

Game Notes: Alonso’s homer tied Mark McGwire for the most homers by a rookie first baseman, and it set the new Mets team season record. Lugo became the first Mets reliever to have a win and an RBI hit in a game since Nelson Figueroa.

Noah Syndergaard’s Time To Remind Everyone How Great He Is

This has not been the year anyone expected from Noah Syndergaard. This was supposed to be the year he took off, but he has a career worst ERA, FIP, ERA+, BB/9, and K/9. However, when you peel things back, he has shown flashes of being the pitcher he was in 2016.

There have been a number of issues Syndergaard has faced including the new ball, but the biggest has been Wilson Ramos. Ramos’ inability to frame the low pitch has really hindered Syndergaard’s ability to do what he does best. With Ramos has been behind the plate, he hasn’t been able to utilize that slider he debuted against the Royals in 2016. Instead, he’s been using his four seamer more, and he’s had to pitch up in the zone.

That has led to Syndergaard not being the great pitcher he has been in his career. With Ramos behind the plate, he has a 5.20 ERA. With Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera, it has been a completely different story. With Nido and Rivera, he has a 2.22 ERA.

In essence, with Ramos behind the plate, Syndergaard has pitched like Walker Lockett or Corey Oswalt. With Nido and Rivera, he has pitched like Jacob deGrom. No, that’s not a stretch. With catchers whose framing actually complement Syndergaard’s skill-set, he has pitched like a Cy Young caliber pitcher.

After all their pigheadedness, the Mets have opted it is better to help a pitcher succeed than to prop up one of the signature signings of the offseason. They have finally allowed Syndergaard to have what he needs to be successful. Of course, it Mets fashion, they finally relent when it’s Coors Field, and their relenting just so happens to coincide with a day game after a night game. Still, Rivera is going to catch Syndergaard.

The only time that has happened this year, Syndergaard pitched seven scoreless innings allowing just three hits and striking out 10 against a loaded Nationals lineup featuring Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, and Juan Soto. The last time Rivera caught Syndergaard in a big game, Syndergaard matched zeros with Madison Bumgarner for seven innings in the 2016 National League Wild Card Game.

This is the Syndergaard the Mets need. For that matter, Syndergaard needs to be that pitcher for himself to prove to the team he is still great, and they need to invest in him going forward. However, before the offseason, the Mets need to win today to keep their Wild Card hopes alive. The Mets and Syndergaard have exactly what they need for that to happen.

Mets 2019 Season Comes Down To These 10 Games

At 77-72, the New York Mets have been officially eliminated to the National League East race, and they are 4.0 games back of the Cubs for the second Wild Card with 13 games remaining in the season. To that end, they are also three games behind the red hot Milwaukee Brewers who are making a charge for the second Wild Card.

This means the Mets next stretch of games is likely going to be their entire season. They have 10 games to get back into this race to put themselves into position to fight for that last Wild Card spot.

First up is the Colorado Rockies who are playing just terrible baseball right now. They are just 21-40 in the second half. That said, they are three games over .500, and they are just one game under .500 in September after sweeping the Padres. There is also the matter of Daniel Murphy, who has been a Mets killer and has been hot at the plate.

Still, the Rockies are 33-56 against teams over .500. As a result, the Mets can sweep them.

After the Rockies, the Cincinnati Reds are next. The Reds are better than their record indicates with a +10 run differential. Like the Rockies, they are just one game under .500 for the month, and they are five games over .500 at home. Fortunately, the Mets are going to miss Luis Castillo, but they are going to get Trevor Bauer, but that may not be such a bad thing with Bauer having a 6.39 ERA with the Reds.

Again, the Mets might be able to sweep them.

That brings the Marlins into town. These aren’t the Marlins of 2007-2008 with Dontrelle Willis, Miguel CabreraDan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, and Cody Ross. No, this is a very bad Marlins team who appears to be the only team in the National League who will lose 100 games this year.

The Mets second half run and impressive march from 10 games under .500 until this point started by taking two out of three from the Marlins in Miami. In August, the Mets really made things interesting by sweeping a four game set against the Marlins in Citi Field in what part of an eight game winning streak.

The Mets need to get part of the way there. Likely, they will need a 10 game winning streak to get them to 87-72 to have a real chance of getting into the postseason.

If the Mets do go 10-0 over this stretch, they will need the Cubs to go 6-4 against the Reds, Cardinals, and Pirates. Given how terrible the Pirates have played of late, that means the Mets need the Cardinals to sweep the Cubs, which is certainly possible but not entirely likely to happen.

The trickier part is the Brewers. Over their next 10 games, they have the Padres, Pirates, and Reds. Even with the Brewers being without Christian Yelich, again, the Pirates laying down is a major impediment to the Mets chances of catching either club. Fortunately, the Mets “only” need the Brewers to go 7-3 over this stretch of games to tie them.

Overall, with the Cubs and Brewers both playing the Pirates, at minimum the Mets need to go 9-1 over this stretch. Realistically speaking, that is probably not enough. They need to sweep the 10 games. If they do that, they will be likely giving themselves an opportunity to have a shot at being the second Wild Card entering the final weekend of the season.

While September series against the Braves are typically horror stories for the Mets, the Braves likely will have nothing to play for at that point and will be more interested in lining up their rotation for the NLDS. If things stand the way they are, the Mets will also be definitively sending Steven Matz to the mound.

Matz has been great in the second half, has a 1.94 ERA at Citi Field, and has limited the Braves to a .189/.255/.400 batting line against him this year. After that, if there is still hope left for the final game of the season, it’s all on Stroman to keep it alive to maybe put the whole season on Noah Syndergaard where you hope the Mets are just not stupid enough to start Wilson Ramos over Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera.

Put another way, right now, the Mets still have a puncher’s chance. Considering where they were coming into the break and their losing two out of three to the Braves, you’ll gladly take that.

20/20 Hindsight: Dodgers Were Simply Better

The New York Mets faced off against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a series the Mets and their fans had hoped would be an NLDS preview. Judging what we saw in this series, if this was a preview, Major League Baseball would’ve been thrilled, but it seems like this won’t be the series they’ll get:

1. Not only did the Dodgers beat the Mets, they beat the best the Mets could throw at them. This is the biggest sign the Mets were just not good enough to claim the Wild Card or have a real shot at the World Series.

2. Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, and Jeff McNeil combined to go 0-for-25 with two walks and five strikeouts. If they’re going to do that against any opponent, the Mets have little to no chance of winning no matter how good their starting pitching is.

3. For the most part, the starting pitching was really good too. Jacob deGrom further cemented his being the Cy Young front runner going toe-to-toe with Hyun-Jin Ryu. After that game, deGrom was the only starter in the National League in the top five in innings, strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, FIP, ERA+, bWAR, and fWAR. If that’s not a Cy Young Award winner, we don’t know what is.

4. Back in 2015, when Zack Wheeler was on the precipice of being traded with Wilmer Flores for Carlos Gomez, Wheeler called Alderson to ask to not be traded, so he could pitch for this Mets team in a pennant race and hopefully win a World Series. He got his chance, and he took full advantage of the opportunity pitching great against the Dodgers limiting them to one run over seven.

5. In that game, Wheeler got a number of big outs. After allowing a leadoff double to Joc Pederson in the sixth, he struck out the next three. After allowing a single to Gavin Lux putting runners at first and second with one out in the seventh, he struck out the next two.

6. Wheeler showed more emotion he ever has in a Mets uniform, and the way he is closing out the season, it is a reminder the Mets are going to have to do better than the qualifying offer for him. They are going to need to lock him up if they want to legitimately have an opportunity to win in 2020.

7. The criticism of Mickey Callaway for lifting Wheeler was inane. He saw Wheeler was tired, and Wheeler admitted as such. He was turning over the game to Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo, who have been great all year. This is the exact opportunity you want, and they didn’t deliver.

8. There’s no need to criticize Wilson or Lugo. They’ve been great all year. Just lament what could have been and tip your cap to them for being what they’ve been to this team.

9. You can’t help but think that a year or two ago Juan Lagares robs that Enrique Hernandez double in the ninth, and if that was the case, Lugo gets out of that ninth unscathed.

10. The only Mets starter who did not pitch well was Noah Syndergaard. Of course, the Mets thought it more important to send a message to him by having Wilson Ramos catch him than to set him and the team up for success by having Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera catch him.

11. For all the talk of the desperate need for Ramos’ bat in the lineup, he was 1-for-10 with a walk and three strikeouts in the series, and he is hitting .211/.268/.368 over the past two weeks. That should’ve been a further indication he should have sat when Syndergaard started, but you know, messages trump winning.

12. That next message came during Sunday Night Baseball. All season long, Jessica Mendoza has refrained from offering insight into what the Mets are thinking about anything or any one player. However, during the broadcast, she took the time to smear Syndergaard and pretend like the whole issue was blown out of proportion.

13. Saying Syndergaard needed the training wheels taken off was both a stupid thing to say and an unwarranted insult. Syndergaard is the last Mets pitcher with a World Series win. He has proven to be the only pitcher in Major League Baseball who has matched zeros with Madison Bumgarner in the postseason. But sure, he needs his training wheels taken off like Greg Maddux did in his career, or A.J. Burnett did as he helped pitch the Yankees to the 2009 World Series.

14. It’s interesting how Mendoza offered insight on Syndergaard, but there was no discussion on the Mets thinking on Wheeler, who was an impending free agent, when she was discussing the starters available in free agency. That makes the shot all the more unwarranted.

15. If not for Rajai Davis, the Mets likely get swept as the Mets starters did not do anything at the plate against the excellent Dodgers starting pitching. Seeing him deliver, it makes you question why the Mets wasted so much time on Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, Gomez, and whatever flew through the 40 man roster this year.

16. Actually, there was one Mets starter who delivered – Brandon Nimmo. His RBI triple was a huge hit. The same goes for J.D. Davis‘ homer off Clayton Kershaw. Other than that, the Mets starters did little to nothing.

17. When you break it all down, this was a series where the Mets showed they could stand toe-to-toe with the Dodgers, but they also showed they are not good enough to beat the Dodgers right now. Sure, it’s possible in the NLDS the Mets could still pull it out like they did in 2015, but it’s an uphill climb to get to that point.

18. The Mets are really behind the eight ball being four back with 13 games left in their season. The good news there is the Mets next 10 games come against the Reds, Rockies, and Marlins. That means a 10-0 stretch is not out of the question, and if they do that, it can make the final weekend all the more interesting.

19. Ultimately, no one in that Mets clubhouse deserves any blame. They gave the Mets everything they could give, and they’ve played their hearts out. Really, if you want to blame anyone, look at the front office who completely failed to build the type of roster that was needed to win this year.

20. Lets just enjoy the final stretch of the season and do post mortems later. This team still has a pulse, and they’ve earned our faith and belief in them. No one should speak of them being done until they are actually done.