Posted by David Whitman at 11:00 AM
While talking Mets baseball over a couple of beers at the bar this past weekend a friend said, “I really believe the Mets are going to the Series this year.” I didn’t completely agree but I admired his enthusiasm, after this weekend though, I’d say that possibility has taken a hit. Speaking of hit, the Mets could’ve used one to drive in a run or two during back to back whitewashings at Citi Field by Nat hurlers.
The team has now dropped three straight series, leading to a 3-7 slump, after jumping off to a 13-3 start. There’s nothing wrong with a 16-10 start and we all knew a correction was coming but you can’t let your biggest division rival waltz in and continue its dominance in your home park. After a horrendous start Washington is just 4 games back and the surprising Braves just 3.5 off the pace. The good news is that in this upcoming short week, after a quick 2 game set at Camden Yards vs the O’s, the Mets travel to Philadelphia to take on one of the worst teams in baseball. No wins are guaranteed in MLB but if they don’t sweep or take 2 of 3 at Citizens Bank Park something is seriously wrong and it might be time to worry-a little bit.
After that they play 4 at Wrigley against the upstart Cubs-one of the few NL teams with the bats to match Met arms. The Mets tour of the Midwest continues after that with stops in Milwaukee and St. Louis. During the Cardinal series New York plays game #40 of the 2015 season. A record of even just 22-18 at that point puts them on pace for an 88 win season. The team should be able to win at least 6 out of their next 14 by beating up on the weak Phils and struggling Brewers. A.550 winning pct. at the quarter pole is respectable but should be the minimum of where the Mets could be at the end of game 40.
The season is long and filled with unexpected surprises, disappointments and of course, injuries. But if you break it down into 20 game segments you can usually see a trend or pattern for a team developing. After 20 games New York was 15-5 but no team is going to win 75% of their games. In some ways that unbelievable start created unrealistic expectations for a talented but flawed team. It also gave that team a nice cushion to help them in a future 20 game cycle when they might only win 5 games. By following the Mets record from game 20 to 40 to 60 and so on you can see how many games they’re on pace to win. Even if they only win 27 games between now and the half way point of the season they’d still be on pace for an 86 win season.
That means all they have to do is go 27-28 between now and then. That’s just around .500 ball over the next 55 games. It certainly seems easy enough and very doable but I would bet getting those 27 wins will be more difficult and take longer than the 16 preceding ones. Still by just breaking even between now and the halfway mark the Mets would only need to continue playing roughly .500 ball the rest of the way after to get 86-87 wins and in all likelihood that would be enough to punch their ticket into the postseason. If they do a little better, say 29-26 between now and game 81 the Mets would be 45-36 and only have to play a little over .500 ball the rest of the way to win 90. That’s how huge this year’s 13-3 start potentially could be for the 2015 Mets.
An advantage New York has over most other teams is that they have the depth and talent to be buyers and sellers during trading season. With Syndergaard and Matz waiting in the wings, Colon, Niese, and/or Gee could be moved to a contender for prospects, a shortstop or a power bat. If Herrera produces the Mets could include Daniel Murphy to sweeten any deadline deal.
Despite the disappointment of losing 3 of 4 to the Nats, the Mets are still atop the NL East and are awaiting the return of the Captain and later d’Araund to bolster the sagging line-up. The effectiveness of the starting 5 makes it difficult for the Mets to go on extended losing streaks. The bullpen has looked solid, and at times spectacular so far too. The latest ZIPS has their playoff odds at only 44.6% but the return of the Wright and d’Araund as well as the two stud pitchers waiting to bust lose down on the farm if a current starter breaks down or gets traded put the Mets in an enviable position going forward.