Crazy things are happening in baseball and in New York sports.
After everyone counted the Mets out this season for good reason, like a mummy, they are resurrected from the dead by being one game out of the wild-card race and 8 ½ games out in the NL East race. They entered this weekend’s crucial series against the Washington Nationals winning 13 of their last 14 games, and winning six straight. Overall, they won 19 of 25 games since the post All-Star break.
It took them two hours and 26 minutes on Wednesday afternoon to dispatch the hapless Miami Marlins in a 7-2 victory at Citi Field. That’s how good they are right now.
Give the Mets credit for playing like professionals by not mailing it in after Mets closer Edwin Diaz all but unofficially ended the Mets season by blowing a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning of the Mets’ 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on June 27. If nothing else, the Mets haven’t quit on their manager Mickey Callaway.
For them to put themselves in a position in the wild-card race is impressive. It makes baseball relevant in New York, and it beats hearing NFL training camp talk on local sports radio. It’s fun reading the New York Post daily to write about the Mets. Heck, it gives me something to write about for this fine site.
But proceed with caution. There’s no denying the Mets beat up on awful teams such as the raw Padres, struggling Pirates, awful White Sox and hopeless Marlins. They are also doing well when there was no pressure.
The optimists in Metville can tout the Mets are beating teams they should beat to be in this position, and they can say the Mets don’t have to apologize for doing their job. They are right on both counts.
But now, we will find out what the Mets are made up when they play a gauntlet of elite teams such as the Washington Nationals (this weekend and Labor Day weekend), Atlanta Braves (twice in August), Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies (twice in two weeks) and Los Angeles Dodgers. That stretch will define whether or not the Mets are making the playoffs.
I don’t like the Mets’ chances, and that’s why the Mets won’t be a playoff team. Speaking in absolutes is not the way to go, and it’s dangerous to judge a team on what happened earlier in the season since teams can come together late in the season. Things change during the course of a 162-game season.
But the Mets proved they have not beaten elite teams this season. No one can deny the Mets have had their troubles against the Nationals, Phillies and Braves this season. That could be a problem moving forward.
It’s also hard to think the Mets can sustain this for two months. Any bad team can go on a nice run for a month, but sustaining it for two or three months make it hard. Eventually, making up so much ground takes a toll on the players.
Also, do the math. The Mets face so many hurdles to leapfrog teams in the wild-card race. With 47 games remaining, they are going to lose some games eventually where they will lose ground.
This weekend’s matchup with the Nationals followed by the three-game road series with the Braves make this a critical series for this team. Either it provides hope or a speed bump at the wrong time.
For the Mets, they need to do well against the Nationals and Braves to show they should be taken seriously. If they make the playoffs, it will be because they beat those teams this month and next month.
There’s so much to lose than to gain in the next six games. If the Mets don’t win the series against the Nationals and Braves, what they did in the last few weeks will mean nothing. It would be same ol’ Mets as in when the pressure is on, they wilt.
Jacob deGrom gives the Mets a chance to win, but Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz are inconsistent for anyone to think they turned the corner, even if they pitched well lately. Those three need to earn the benefit of the doubt for them and the Mets to be taken seriously.
The Mets lineup can be relied on. They hit well overall this season, and with Michael Conforto and Amed Rosario playing well to go along with Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso, the Mets should feel good about their chances down the stretch.
The Mets played well enough to make this weekend’s games count. Now, they need to keep it going to make themselves play meaningful games in September.
This becomes the hard part, and it’s hard to not forget what the Nationals and Braves did to the Mets these last few months.
Logic, common sense and history say the Mets don’t have a chance in the end.