When the Mets lost six games in a row to the Braves and Cubs at Citi Field last week to fall 5.0 games back of the second Wild Card spot, their odds of reaching the playoffs sank right along with the hearts of their fans.
After winning back-to-back series on the road against the Phillies and Nationals, the Mets sat 4.5 games back of that second Wild Card spot entering Thursday with 23 games to go.
The Mets' playoff chances are not good, but they're better than all of the teams between them and the Cubs. Here's how the odds shake out, per FanGraphs:
Cubs: 80.8 percent
Mets: 11.0 percent
Brewers: 9.6 percent
Diamondbacks: 9.4 percent
Phillies: 3.1 percent
While the Mets' odds are better than the Brewers, Diamondbacks, and Phillies, they're still going to have to pull off a second miracle in the same season.
In a scenario where the second Wild Card winds up with 88 wins, here's what likely needs to happen for the Mets to make it...
Mets go 17-6 for the remainder of the season
Once the Mets fell to 5.0 games back, they put themselves in a spot where they needed to win pretty much every series for the remainder of the season in order to have a realistic shot to nab the second Wild Card spot.
So far, the Mets have won both series they've played but only gained a half game in the process. Translation? They need to sweep some of these series, not just win them.
We've seen the Mets recently win 15 of 16, so winning 17 of 23 isn't crazy talk.
The Mets are in the midst of an extremely difficult stretch where they're facing playoff contenders in 31 of 34 games. They have 10 games left in that stretch -- all at home -- where they'll host the Phillies (three games), Diamondbacks (four games) and Dodgers (three games).
If the Mets can take care of business over the next 10 games, they should gain some ground (more on that below) before they enter an extremely easy 10-game stretch against the Rockies (three games), Reds (three games), and Marlins (four games), before finishing the season against the Braves (three games at home), who could have already cemented their playoff seed by then.
The NL Central Wild Card contenders cannibalize themselves
The Cubs are the Mets' main concern, but the Brewers are standing between them and a playoff spot, too.
While the Cubs and Brewers face one another down the stretch, they both also have games left with the NL Central-leading Cardinals.
- The Cubs (4.5 games ahead of the Mets and leading the second Wild Card) play the Brewers four times and the Cardinals seven times in their final 24 games. That series with the Brewers begins Thursday night in Milwaukee. And with the Cardinals not close to comfortable in the NL Central race, all seven of those games could have meaning.
- The Brewers (0.5 game ahead of the Mets) play the Cubs four times and the Cardinals three times. Milwaukee also finishes the season with six games on the road.
The Phillies' tough schedule does them in
Philadelphia (1.0 game ahead of the Mets) finished a stretch Thursday where they played 13 of 18 games against teams with losing records.
Beginning Friday, the Phillies face the Mets (three games), Braves (four games), Red Sox (two games), Braves (three games), Indians (three games), and Nationals (five games) before wrapping up the season against the Marlins (three games).
When you take into account the Phillies' run differential (-8), their brutal upcoming schedule, and the state of their starting pitching, it's understandable why their playoff odds are the lowest of all the remaining Wild Card contenders.
The Diamondbacks cool off
Arizona (1.5 games ahead of the Mets) has won 9 of 10 games and are the hottest team in baseball. And they have the easiest schedule left of all the teams competing for the second Wild Card spot, with just seven games remaining against teams above .500.
While the Diamondbacks have an incredibly easy schedule, the Mets have the power to take them out themselves when they face them at Citi Field in a four-game set next week.