With much debate looming over who will start a hypothetical NL Wild Card game, New York Mets fans must realize that their club does not have that same luxury.As the days of the major league baseball regular season dwindle down, it is becoming ever so clear that the New York Mets will extend their campaign into the postseason for a second straight year — at least for one game.
Holding a 1.5-game lead for the first NL Wild Card, with three impending matches with the Phillies, all signs indicate that October 5 will bring about a Citi Field hosted one-game playoff.
The expectation of a pivotal, season-on-the-line, matchup has brought about constant speculation. Speculation as to who will take the ball to potentially begin the defense of the 2015 NL Pennant which was hoisted in Flushing.
Sure, fans would love for Noah Syndergaard to take the ball in a do or die scenario. Yes, the faithful in Queens would not want any other man on the hill.
However, what everyone is failing to realize is the situation the Mets are currently in. If the club held a 2.5-game lead for their playoff spot two weeks ago, there would still be the outside chance that they could build a cushion. If the team had built a sizable, comfortable, lead for home-field advantage in that game, they would be in a position to get their cards in order.
That time has expired, and it is all hands on deck from here on out. Simply put, there is a playoff berth to be secured. Without a secured spot, the team and organization will be left empty-handed.
Currently, Terry Collins has his top two starters lined up to pitch the final two games of the season. Bartolo Colon is set to go on Saturday in Philadelphia with Noah Syndergaard toeing the rubber in Game 162 on Sunday. Quite frankly, Mets fans should not want it any other way.
With so much still at stake, it is nonsensical to even look a week down the road. In an ideal world, Syndergaard — the ace of the staff — could be lined up for the “win or go home” game. Realistically, New York will not be afforded that luxury. In fact, Colon — their number two starter — will likely be out of the fold as well.
On Saturday, in all likelihood, the Mets will still be in search of a playoff spot. On Sunday, almost certainly, they will still be in search of home field, a pivotal aspect when putting 162 games of work in the hands of one October night. A three-game, spot-clinching, lead being built is virtually impossible, making every single game substantial as the club attempts to stave off both the Giants and Cardinals.
Colon and Syndergaard will be needed to accomplish the task. Essentially, they are the most qualified to execute the order as well.
Having both of them fire respective gems in the final series would earn that coveted playoff berth, yet leave the team without a proven commodity in the Wild Card Game. At the moment, it is just about rolling with the punches.
Whether it is Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman, October 5 will be the equivalent of a Game 7: short leashes and unanimous availability. Squandering that opportunity would result from an ill-advised attempt to cross that bridge too soon — thinking about what is best for then rather than now.
It is all about the now. There is no tomorrow without a today in any case, but particularly for the New York Mets.
Win today, and then focus on tomorrow — a concept often forgotten and extremely vital in a path to the top.