The Mets are hoping for a revival of last year’s push at the end to reach the playoffs. Hate to say it, but it’s only a dream.
The Mets, with the backdrop of last year’s second-half turnaround that pushed the team to finish the season six games over .500 but short of the playoffs, couldn’t wait to get on the field to start the 2020 season.
As we sit here today, the Mets are still looking back and attempting to grab hold of that same energy to break what is developing into yet another season of diminishing returns.
If the season ended today, the Mets at 15-20 would not be one of the eight teams in the National League to suit up for the postseason.
The Marlins (15-15) and Phillies (15-15) have the best overall record, aside from the division winners and runners-up that already qualified, followed by the Rockies (17-18).
Van Wagenen’s Foot In Mouth Disease
Only three teams in the league have a worse record than the Mets. This, a day after GM Brodie Van Wagenen announced the Mets are “far from quitting on the season”.
What kind of statement is that? The Mets don’t quit. It sounds more like Van Wagenen is speaking more for himself and not on behalf of the guys in the clubhouse – like he’s the lame duck in the organization – and he knows it.
It’s looking like the last team to make the playoffs in the NL will finish the season right around the .500 mark, if not directly on it.
With 25 games to play, Jacob deGrom will make only five more starts. To get to .500, the Mets need to run out the string with a record of 15-10, the equivalent of playing .600 baseball.
Indeed, the Mets are capable of doing that. But here’s the catch. They are not the only team in the league playing games. Their fate is in the hands of teams like the upstart Marlins, Phillies, and Brewers as much as it rests with their play.
Mets: A Glance At Some Numbers
But let’s go out on a limb to project that deGrom will win four of his five starts, with the other being a no-decision. Where is the other ten (of 15) wins going to come from?
Who then, are the four Mets starters who can be relied upon to win three of their remaining five outings?
And remember, this is without any consideration of Luis Rojas’ disintegrating bullpen.
Mets: The Pressure shifts to Pete Alonso
The Mets need Pete Alonso if there is any chance to sweep by the teams ahead of them in the standings. Luis Guillorme (.410), Robinson Cano (.380), Dominic Smith, and Michael Conforto (both at .313) can all be marked as substantial offense contributors.
But none has the presence in the line-up of the “Polar Bear” when he’s on. Alonso’s struggles are well known, and his teammates still believe he’ll be there down the stretch.
Jeff McNeil, for example, offers this assessment of Alonso:
He’s the type of guy that’s going to keep battling, keep grinding. He’s always working on getting better. He’s a competitor; he battles every day. He’s going to get back to his form. If he gets hot these next few weeks, you know he’s going to play a huge part in us making the playoffs.” Deesha Thosar, New York Daily News
But does anyone see a game-changer among those names?
Mets Luis Rojas: Consider This Your Final Exam
Last year, following the debacle surrounding the dismissal of Mickey Callaway, the Mets players, primarily on the back of Pete Alonso, took it on themselves to make something from a trainwreck season.
This year, Alonso has enough to think about, despite going through the motions as team cheerleader and the go-to guy when his team needs a complementary quote or soundbite.
If the team does quit, it’ll mainly be on the shoulders of Luis Rojas. As a rookie manager, he doesn’t get a mulligan, and he’s still expected to lead his team in both good and bad times.
Body language and his presence in the dugout during games mean everything. Empty words of encouragement in the face of failure do not cut it with professional ballplayers.
Direct and open communication is what Mets players hope and need to hear from Rojas.
Twenty-five games in the space 25 days is not a lot of time, and any pretension suggesting it is only worsening the Mets situation.
Yes, they did it once (last year), and undoubtedly they have the talent (along with a bit of luck) to do it again.
But last season, when they began the run, the Mets were out of it, having plummeted to ten games below .500 before Alonso won the Home Run Derby and brought his magic home.
They’re still in it this year, and no one is writing them off. But as Yogi Berra reminded us in his inimitable way – “It sure gets late early out here”.