The spectrum of playoff performance for a potential October stint is unpredictably haywire for the New York Mets.
On October 30, 2015, the 7 Line train was buzzing to Flushing, New York for a breezy autumn night of World Series baseball.
Not long after Citi Field played host to its first postseason game since opening its doors in April of 2009, record crowds of nearly 50,000 would converge on the stadium for the Fall Classic, an unforeseen circumstance spawned by incredible team play.
That team play was steered by the efforts of longtime contributors who came alive in heroic fashion – the prime example being Daniel Murphy – and insurgent performers key to the New York Mets’ 90-win season, including the likes of Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
A roster stocked with tremendous talent – unbeatable when playing at its highest level by any team across the sport – flourished in a perfect harmony of playing at, or beyond, its ability.
In other words, the 2016 Mets honed in on the postseason formula that prevailed in a decisive National League Division Series game five, and on all cylinders of a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs.
Defeating the Cubs, a club which has proven its potency with a follow-up act for the ages, was a swift and conclusive answer to the Mets’ legitimacy.
And it was evident that the Mets were, indeed, legit.
While that fortune ran short in time for the World Series, the Mets’ postseason success remained a testament to all but unfailing team building.
Today, on the morning of September 20, of the year 2016, the team is not yet a postseason lock, but Fangraphs pegs the club’s playoff odds at an optimistic 83.7 percent clip.
In analyzing the Mets’ playoff prospects, which range from a return to November baseball, perhaps even a claim of World Series glory, or owning the lowly and forgotten status of one-and-done rejects, promise is less founded, but regardless thoroughly alive.
The Mets will, as a matter of fact, be without postseason stars Murphy and deGrom, neither will they have Matt Harvey or David Wright. The health of Steven Matz remains in question, and whether or not he can produce at a replacement level of those sidelined aces is an October mystery.
If he can, and if Noah Syndergaard pumps up his playoff levels of 2015, the Mets could assemble a formidable trio of starters – don’t forget the steadiness of Bartolo Colon – even without its precious right-handers.
The bullpen could be called a wild card, as consistency and trust-in-ability are hard assets to find in a group that turns to a swath of inexperienced and often non-playoff caliber relievers after Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed. Even that pair, too, had its postseason struggles.
Offensively, what we can expect behind the curtain is impossible to predict. The lineup of recent weeks has flashed some impressive batting to couple the power that has been present all year. Yet, a summer swoon of sorts is fresh in memory for an offense that was once unable to muster a few runs to support a well-pitched effort.
So, go ahead and chalk the offense up as a wild card as well.
In a most optimistic light, the refrain of home runs to boot dominant pitching is a picture of sometimes unbeatable proportions.
On the other hand, a lineup most appropriately likened to an eye sore, paired with a pitching staff that is not a lock for its preeminence of old, is a scenario with real possibility.
Even with injured players who may have, or may very likely have, shaped a playoff run on the shelf – deGrom, Harvey, Wright, Neil Walker and even Zack Wheeler included – hope is alive.
If you have ever watched sports for more than a one-time sitting, you are well versed in their penchant for the dramatic – a flare of the unexpected, even the unbelievable. And thus, there is hope.
At the end of the day, it is a fitting work of baseball’s model that the New York Mets will likely occupy a wild card playoff spot.
Because, after all, there’s no better way to describe this group.