Two weeks ago, this writer wrote that the Mets were out of playoff contention.
At the time, I said the Mets had 38 games left in the season and that the only thing to look forward to for the rest of the season was to learn things for the 2022 season.
When that article was published, the Mets were 62-63 and 6.5 games back in the division. The Braves had won 10 games in a row, and the Mets just got hammered by the Dodgers and Giants.
After the next four games, I was even more confident. The Mets got swept at home to the Giants and lost their first game of the series to the Nationals. They fell to 62-67 and 8.5 games back in the division. It looked like the season was over. For once, I may have been right.
However, this is baseball we are talking about, and anything can happen. Since August 28, the Mets are 8-1. They have gained five games in the division in nine days.
With 25 games left to play, the Mets sit 3.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the division. They have done what they’ve needed to do against bad teams. They’re 8-1 against the two worst teams in their division.
New York still has one game more to play against the Nationals on Monday. So far, the Mets have proven me wrong. They are winning games and making September relevant, something I didn’t think was possible.
After Monday, though, then the real test begins.
The Mets are not scheduled to face the Washington Nationals for the rest of the season from that point forward. They will have six more games with the Miami Marlins, but the rest of the 19 games include teams who have been above .500 for the majority of the season; those teams include the Yankees, Cardinals, Phillies, Brewers, Red Sox, and Braves.
It’s certainly possible that the Mets can still win their division. It’s possible to gain 3.5 games over the last month of the season. They’ve played good baseball to climb back into the race, but they’re going to need to play great baseball to take the next step and win the division.
We haven’t seen the Mets play great baseball in a while, and while this week has been good, there have been some things that have cropped up in which the Mets may not have won had they played a better opponent.
For example, the Mets had a 9-0 lead in the 4th inning of the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday. The Nationals came storming all the way back, and the Mets blew the lead. Miguel Castro, Brad Hand, and Seth Lugo, three key figures in their bullpen, had rough days. The Nationals are a depleted team, with one great player left after trading most of their team at the trade deadline in July.
You can’t blow leads to a team like that and expect to do big things. The Mets came back and won, and they deserve credit for that, but they have to clean up their issues. Who knows what they would have done against a good team if they allowed the Nationals to come back?
The Mets bullpen has been inconsistent at times this season. Aaron Loup is the one pitcher who has been solid all season, who continues to look great in his role.
However, pretty much everyone else has had their ups and downs. Even closer Edwin Diaz. He’s been nearly perfect in save opportunities, but he’s been inconsistent in non-save situations. On Friday night against the Nationals, the Mets led 2-0 in the ninth, and Diaz blew the lead. They eventually won in ten innings, but it’s that kind of inconsistency that makes you question just how good the Mets are and if Diaz, who has yet to prove he can handle a late-season pennant race, can hold up the rest of the season.
Their bats are also very hot and cold. In the last few games, the offense has hit very well; they lead the National League in runs during this run they are on. However, they have yet to have any two-week period of scoring many runs against good teams. Even their starting pitching has shown some cracks recently.
Those kinds of cracks are easier to spot when playing against good baseball teams. The Mets are a very talented team. They have to put it all together at the right time, which is something they haven’t been able to do all season long.
In the end, Met fans should be thrilled with their performance this past week. However, there are still areas of concern for this team moving forward. Those areas of concern need to be cleaned up if they want to win the division.
Where will it be in a week?
Only time will tell.
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