With September now a reality, we examine what Terry Collins and the New York Mets need to do to snag an NL Wild Card spot.
Led to victory by the bats of Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce, alongside the stellar work of Seth Lugo on the mound, the New York Mets were able to win a big series with the Washington Nationals, maintaining a one game deficit of the second wild card seeded Cardinals.
As of late, St. Louis has been playing mediocre ball, losing two of three to the NL Central’s fifth place Reds, as well as losing five of their nine games prior. The Mets, on the contrary, have been playing heavenly ball, winning their five last series.
The question is obvious: What must fall into place during the last month of the season for the Mets to lock up a Wild Card position?
The Mets have miraculously found success with their Triple-A pitching.
If it weren’t for the arms of Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, and reliever Josh Smoker, this team would not be where they are now. The Mets were not expecting anything close to identical strength in their Triple-A pitching when they lost Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom.
That is, however, exactly what they received.
So wrapped up in the success of new pitchers, Noah Syndergaard and Bartolo Colon, have been left out of the spotlight. Thor and Big Sexy have also been pitching miraculously. If these men can maintain their success, the Mets are on step closer to clinching.
2. Consistent Winning
As simple as it sounds, the Mets must win their games.
Why does it need to be pointed out? The Mets are playing 22 games against teams that are below .500, if not severely below.
These teams include the Braves, Phillies, and Marlins, along with the Reds and Twins. Excluding three more games against the Nationals, those are the teams the Mets have to face. They were blessed with a walk in the park for their last month. They must capitalize on it.
If they win each of their remaining series, not necessarily sweeps, they should waltz into the Wild Card spot.
3. SF, STL, PIT, MIA
Although out of the Mets control, excluding one series against the Marlins, the Mets have no bearing on the success of the teams still clogging up their trip to the playoffs. The teams that are behind are the Pirates and Marlins. The Pirates just lost six in a row, nearly shooting themselves in the foot in terms of getting back to yet another one game playoff. The Marlins have also dug their own graves, losing eight of their last ten, three of course at the hands of the Amazin’s.
It may sound simple, but depending on momentum, which neither San Francisco and St. Louis have, they just have to get beat by teams that can beat them. One other team that should get an honorable mention is the Dodgers. They have to keep winning so that they and the Giants aren’t toggling for the division, which would make it seem like there are three Wild Card teams to beat.
Dare it be said: the Mets must keep themselves off the disabled list.
Injuries have been there biggest issues all year, and likely the reason they are not atop the NL East. The Mets, who have fought there way through while missing key parts like Wright and Duda, can no longer afford to lose big players. Neil Walker’s most recent decision to end his season due to back issues was the last straw they could afford. Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera have been the constants at the two and three spot in the Mets lineup. Kelly Johnson and Wilmer Flores have been the other two key utility men that can’t spend time on the bench either.
All of these parts put together will be the key to success in Queens. It will push them into the Wild Card and hopefully past the one game playoff. Terry Collins has it all in the palm of his hand if he pulls the right strings. Keep his pitchers sharp, win the games that must be won, watch the other teams lose, and keep his men out of harm’s way.
Should all the above end up on the positive side of things, the Mets will be wild card bound.