The New York Mets have a tough road ahead of them that makes the playoffs next to impossible, no matter what the standings say.
The New York Mets start Tuesday just two games out of a playoff spot. They’re only 2.5 games back of the Philadelphia Phillies for the top wild-card spot. Therein lies the problem.
The Mets are slated to start a series against the Phillies on Tuesday night. It’s a huge opportunity to take back their chances at a playoff berth. If they can sweep this series, then the Mets will be a half-game up and in a playoff position. The Phillies are even coming in cold, having lost their last three games. The problem is, the Mets haven’t been much better. They’ve lost four of their last six, including their last two.
Even if the Mets sweep the series, it could be a short-lived victory. The Phillies have a game in hand that could even things up down the road. Not to mention, the Mets have one of the most difficult schedules in baseball the rest of the way.
After they finish up with the Phillies, the Mets will play the first-place Atlanta Braves, the first-place Tampa Bay Rays, and the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals. It’s a nightmare scenario for them, which makes it nearly impossible for the Mets to make the playoffs.
That’s why Fangraphs gives the Mets just a 29% chance to make the playoffs in 2020. That said, it’s not impossible.
The Mets series against the Phillies is as big as it gets. Two teams fighting for playoff position late in September. Neither can afford a dud of a series. If the Mets sweep this series they’re right back in the hunt. Even a series win could give them enough momentum to remain in the hunt late into the season.
There are a few reasons to believe it’s possible. The Phillies will be without Zack Wheeler in the series due to injury, the Phillies haven’t announced who will replace him. The Phillies will also be without Rhys Hoskins who was placed on the IL.
The Mets get Jacob deGrom on the mound in game two against Aaron Nola, a matchup the Mets won just a week ago.
Most importantly, the Phillies’ bullpen has been atrocious. No matter how bad a game looks, the Mets will always be in it. Their offense has finally come to life in the last few weeks and going up against the worst bullpen in MLB is just going to add fuel to the fire.
Things aren’t all rosy though. The Mets starting rotation is still an issue, Rick Porcello is set to pitch Tuesday. The bullpen continues to be a major weakness. Most importantly, the Mets’ defense continues to make life difficult for their pitchers.
These are two weak teams, but the Mets need this series if they even want a shot in the dark at competing for a playoff spot.
It’s hard to see how the Mets win this series. The Braves offense has been significantly better than the Mets’, their bullpen has been stout all year, and they’re set to get Max Fried back from injury.
The Mets can hope to take advantage of the Braves’ young starting rotation, but even if they can, it likely won’t be enough. With David Peterson, Michael Wacha, and Rick Porcello set to take the mound, the pitching is going to be a nightmare.
The Mets are just 2-5 against the Braves in 2020. That trend isn’t likely to change.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Mets not only play the best team in the American League, but they face their best. Both Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow will pitch in their series.
The Rays have been elite in nearly every facet of the game in 2020. They’re going to win the AL East and they might be the favorites to win the AL.
Considering the Mets’ struggles against the rest of the AL East, 7-9, it seems ridiculous to expect the Mets to compete with the elite of that division.
Their hope in this series hinges on the fact that most the Rays haven’t seen the Mets hitters or pitchers before. If they can play that to their advantage then there’s a small chance they could eke out a series victory, but odds are that won’t be the case.
Two underachieving teams meet to finish the season. Coming into the season nobody expected the Nationals to be dead last in the NL East, but here they are. Even with superb displays from Trae Turner and Juan Soto, the Nationals haven’t been able to put together any consistency.
That said, they’ve been equal to the Mets in 2020. In two prior series, the Mets are 3-3 against the East’s bottom dwellers.
This is the series the Mets have the best odds of winning, but at this point in the season, it likely won’t matter. Even if it does, the Mets will still have to find a way to beat Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, while keeping Juan Soto and Trea Turner at bay.
The Mets are technically in the thick of a playoff race. However, it’s hard to imagine them making any real noise.