In addition to picking up 3.0 games in the standings, the Mets also need to leapfrog four teams -- Cubs, Phillies, Brewers and Diamondbacks -- in order to land in the Wild Card game.
The Mets' remaining schedule includes two games against the Diamondbacks, followed by playing the Dodgers, Rockies, Reds, Marlins and Braves. Unfortunately, out of the above teams, the Mets have only beaten up on Miami, have struggled against the Dodgers and Braves, and have played mostly even with the Rockies and Reds.
To be fair, the Mets have been performing much better than earlier in the season. Plus, 12 of their final 18 games are at Citi Field (including their final seven of the season). They are 40-29 at home, 34-41 on the road.
Based on all of the above, and assuming they keep producing as they have during the past week or so, I see the Mets winning 11 more games (out of 18) and ending 2019 at 85-77.
It's unlikely 85 will be enough wins to take over the final Wild Card spot. However, the Mets are not the only team playing baseball the next few weeks. The Cubs, D-backs, Brewers and Phillies have their own challenges on the schedule. Interestingly, though, none of the above five teams play one another again this season...
What must happen to the other four teams?
Assuming the Mets win just 85 games and win the final Wild Card spot outright, the Cubs must go no better than 7-11 between now and the end of the season and Phillies and D-backs cannot win more than 9 of the remaining 18 games. The above is plausible, but it's the Brewers who may prove to be everyone's big threat.
The Brewers need to finish out no better than 8-10. The problem is they are on fire having won 9 of their last 13 games and the Cardinals are the only heavy hitter on their remaining schedule. If there's a reason to think they'll struggle it's that they play most of their remaining games on the road, where they are 33-37 this season. They also just lost MVP-candidate Christian Yelich for the season.
Meanwhile, the Mets must go 11-7
If the above happens, the Mets win the final Wild Card spot. If the Mets and Cubs tie, the two teams play a one-game playoff in Wrigley Field the day after the season is over. The winner will play the Nationals for the Wild Card in Washington, D.C.
In the event the Mets and D-backs tie, the one-game play-in to the Wild Card game would likely be in Queens, though that depends entirely on what happens between now and the end of their current four-game series.
In the case of a tie with the Phillies, the Mets would play in Philadelphia. And, if tied with the Brewers, the one-game battle will be in Milwaukee.
Can any of this happen?
Yes, of course it can happen. After watching 2015 and 2016, and learning a hard lesson in 2007 and 2008, I think we know anything is possible down the stretch -- especially for teams with shoddy bullpens, which describes all of the above teams.
Nevertheless, for the Cubs to prevail in no more than 7 of their remaining 18 games, they need to keep struggling as they have during the past two weeks. It helps that seven of their final 18 games are against the Cardinals. To be fair, Chicago has played well against the Cardinals this season -- winning seven out of 12 times. That said, it is the Cardinals and the Cardinals are in first place, so it will not be an easy task. Aside from St. Louis, though, the Cubs have a fairly easy schedule down the stretch.
In regards to the Diamondbacks, obviously the Mets need to win the final two games of their current four-game series. The two victories already this series has helped New York inch one game closer to the Cubs, who they trail by 3.0 games, but just as important it got the Mets even in the loss column with Arizona. The D-backs leave Citi Field midday Thursday and return to Arizona, where they will play 12 of their remaining 15 games. The only team above .500 on their schedule is the Cardinals.
Aside from St. Louis, the Mets need the Padres to keep getting lucky against the D-backs. So far this season, Arizona has scored 63 runs and allowed 49 against the Padres, though the two teams have essentially split their 13 matchups. This type of run differential should have resulted in more victories for the D-backs than it did. Hopefully things don't change and San Diego can keep stealing wins.
As mentioned above, the Brewers are playing their best baseball of the season. They've won 8 of their last 10 games, including their last five. However, although they've scored a ton of runs during that time, they just lost Yelich. It's possible the team rises to the challenge and finds motivation from Yelich's absence, though it's also possible the loss is crushing and throws the rest of their season off track.
The Phillies have by far the most difficult remaining schedule. Before ending the season with the Marlins, the Phillies get the Wild-Card leading Nationals, the NL East-leading Braves, and the Red Sox and Indians. So, if there's a team most likely to hit a wall in late September, it's the Phillies.
In other words...
The Mets need to win at least 11 of their remaining 18 games, the Cardinals need to rough up the Diamondbacks and Cubs, the Brewers need to be hit hard from the loss of Yelich, and the Phillies need to start reeling when playing some of the league's best teams.
The Mets do not control their own fate. It will take help, but the road to October is not unrealistic. It's possible. I'm telling you, "There's a chance," but it's going to be a dramatic, difficult and exhausting fight.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!