At 15 games over .500 while holding a 6.5 lead in the NL East, is it too early for New York Mets fans to start dreaming of October baseball?
By Robby Sabo
For the New York Mets fan this sort of thing is unheard of. It’s simply fantasy, not reality.
To think it’s now September and their team is 15 games over .500 while holding a 6.5 lead over the Washington Nationals in the NL East is to think America’s favorite dad, Bill Cosby, would be in the headlines for unsavory actions.
Oh wait, he is.
And oh wait, the Mets are.
Aside from the constant bruising Mets fans suffer through from pinching themselves at nauseum over the last month or so, the demons they battle from past scars is what truly scares them.
It’s always “seven with 17 to play” – the reason nobody will truly burst into celebration until that final night when the NL East is clinched in 2015. The Philadelphia Phillies in 2007 are the reason the Mets fan still tempers his/her enthusiasm.
Still, there’s no legitimate reason not to start thinking ahead to October baseball. Sure MLB is a funny game sometimes. Big leads get blown and teams turn on the hot switch at the drop of the hat at times. A miracle withstanding, however, the Amazins will be October bound.
What’s important here is not the fact that a 6.5 game lead in September is a pretty sizable cushion. It’s that these Nationals are as dead as can be.
Thought of as the hands down best rotation we’ve seen in years heading into 2015, everything that’s gone wrong in D.C. has, and then some.
Max Scherzer, for all his wizardry in the first half of the season, has been brutal since the All-Star break. The Nats ace posted a 3.40 ERA in July and then backed it up with an epic 6.43 ERA in August.
Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann have also been very mediocre. In fact, the only guy from the rotation who’s come on of late is the wonder boy himself, Stephen Strasburg. God only knows the next time he’ll fall to the DL again.
Adding all these failures up and putting them in a ball leads us to just one conclusion: The Nats rotation can’t hold the jockstraps of the Mets’ starters.
Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jon Niese and now Steven Matz makeup what will truly be the scariest positional grouping during the 2015 MLB playoffs. Just as the Kansas City Royals possessed the 2014’s version of the scariest group, the bullpen, New York will do the same in a month’s time.
Considering either Syndergaard or Matz will head to the bullpen for much needed help , the Mets staff from ace to closer will suddenly become lights out.
The Nats have Bryce Harper, who’s one of the scariest hitters in baseball. His 38 home runs, 78 RBI and .331 batting average has him in the discussion for the NL MVP.
The Mets have a serious lineup. One that could easily be argued the deepest in baseball, thanks to the smart acquisitions by Sandy Alderson at the deadline. So deep, in fact, they’ll have a tough time deciding who doesn’t make the cut in the first round of the playoffs.
Understandably it’s tough for a Mets fan to look ahead a month and smile. There just hasn’t been enough to smile about in recent years. There just hasn’t been enough evidence to believe things will fall correctly into place.
Try to do the impossible though. Attempt to look at this situation in realistic terms, and not as a Mets fan.
On one hand we have a team who’s been mired in the mud since 2006. A team who just over a month ago thought they were done (as they lost out on Carlos Gomez and lost in the rain to Justin Upton and the San Diego Padres).
It’s truly a Mets team who incredibly had things fall into place for the first time in nine seasons. So much so that Citi Field now knows what it’s like to be compared to the energized scene that was Shea Stadium.
On the other hand we have the complete opposite feeling. A club in the Washington Nationals who missed their chance at greatness a few years ago when their genius general manager (Mike Rizzo) decided to shut down Stephen Strasburg during the season they fielded far and away their best team. A team who, by all accounts, built it the right way and were here to stay for the long-haul.
This is a Nats team who learned the hard way that it’s never a good idea to throw seasons away. Now they’re a mess.
It’s time Mets fans. Start staring at those freshly printed playoff tickets and dream big. Dream about knocking around Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the first round of the NL playoffs.
Consider this: The team who provided so many nightmares in 2007 with “seven with 17 to play,” the Phillies, are now your personal whipping boys.
Dream proudly. After all these years it’s finally your time.
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