Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The number that matters most to the Mets' slim Wild Card dreams is, of course, four. That's how many games they are behind the Cubs for the second Wild Card spot at the start of play Tuesday.
It's also how many teams they have to pass if they're going to make the postseason. In addition to the Cubs, the Brewers, Diamondbacks and Phillies are ahead of them.
Daunting? Yep. FanGraphs says their playoff odds are 8.6 percent. That's not great, but it's not Elimination-ville, either. Maybe if the Mets can wrangle some of the following numbers their way, they've got a shot.
Here's a look at some stats that should impact their longshot hopes:
Better be better at home
Including Monday's win over Arizona, the Mets are 16-10 at home since the break and 39-29 overall at Citi Field. Good, right? They are one of 13 teams that is at least 10 games over .500 in their own ballpark, and have already won more home games than they did all last year.
But the Mets have lost eight of their last 10 games at Citi Field at a time when their home schedule was one of their pluses for potential contention. Awful, right? The Mets finish with 13 of their final 19 games at home, the most in the majors. They'd better take advantage of home field.
Four times in the seven seasons since 2012, the second National League Wild Card team had only 87 or 88 wins. If you believe the Mets (73-70) have to get to 87 or 88 victories to get into the playoffs, that means they have to go 14-5 or 15-4 the rest of the way. To get to 87 wins, the Cubs need only go 10-9, by the way.
Whatever your feeling on the Robinson Cano trade (Edwin Diaz trade?), Cano has a real chance to impact the offense over the next few weeks if he continues hitting and stays healthy. Cano, who suffered a torn left hamstring Aug. 4, had a miserable .646 OPS in the first half, but he's been raking since the All-Star break. Including Monday, he's hit in nine straight games and has a .952 OPS since July 12.
Whatever you believe about hitting with runners in scoring position, now is obviously an ideal time for the Mets to go on a binge that lasts a few weeks.
Overall this year, they are hitting .265 with RISP, which is ranked 12th in MLB, with a .790 OPS (14th). Not bad. But in recent slides, they haven't gotten hits in those situations. When they dropped six in a row last month to the Braves and the Cubs, they were 7-for-48 (.146) with RISP over that span.
In their past three games, they are 4-for-33 with RISP (.121), though they won Monday thanks to Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso and Seth Lugo.
The Mets are 18-11 (.621) when they face a rookie starter this season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, and two of those losses are to Braves' wunderkind Mike Soroka. The Mets won Monday when Arizona had rookie Merrill Kelly on the mound.
That trend must continue, particularly in this series. Rookie Zac Gallen faces Zack Wheeler Tuesday night and the Diamondbacks have another rookie, Alex Young, slated to start Thursday afternoon. The Marlins have used the fourth-most rookie starters in baseball and the Mets have a four-game set with Miami later this month.
Pete and Re-Pete
In the Year of Alonso, a slugger may save them. Or something like that. Home runs are wonderful. Duh. It's part of the way the Mets win. They are 38-11 when they out-homer opponents, 60-45 when they hit a home run and 41-22 when they bash two or more.
Alonso's pursuit of Aaron Judge's rookie home run record isn't just some nifty Subway rivalry note -- it could be vital to the Mets' chances. After Alonso hit two on Monday, they have 206 homers this year; the club record is 224, set two years ago. They also have 103 homers at Citi Field, nine off the team record of 112 established in 2016.
Home runs are good -- doesn't Alonso look like he's having a blast when he hits one? He and the rest of the Mets need to keep pounding.
Can't get no relief?
Can't discuss the Mets without bringing up the bullpen. The much-maligned Mets relief corps had a 3.90 ERA in August and a 3.82 ERA in July. But it's 9.13 so far this month and the overall relief ERA is 5.16, tied for 27th in MLB.
The Mets are also tied for third-most blown saves. Ugh. If the relievers don't have their best three weeks of the season now…