Mets: Their Competition Is Where They Want Them – In The Other Dugout

Mets: The Driving Spirit (SB Nation)

The Mets have fifteen days to make up two games to reach the playoffs. Something tells me they are on the cusp of doing that – and more.

The Mets, on September 12, 2019, stood a full fourteen games behind the Nationals and Braves and tied with the Phillies for third place in the NL East.

Just as today, though, the Mets had a deficit of only two games to make the 2019 playoffs as a wild card team. Despite a continuation of the run they were on, the Mets were also-rans when the playoffs began last year.

Jacob deGrom - Mets Ace Always Gets The Call (Photo: The Athletic)
Jacob deGrom – Mets Ace Always Gets The Call (Photo: The Athletic)

The 2020 version of the New York Mets is not much different than last year.

The team is devoid of starting pitching, forced to rely on bullpen artists like Robert Gsellman (out for the season with an injury) and Seth Lugo, who is making the start tonight against the Buffalo Blue Jays.

Jacob deGrom is dominating once again, and the Mets are even finding ways to give him some run support. But Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha, Brodie Van Wagenen’s offseason wish and a prayer to find lightning in a bottle, have been pedestrian at best.

Mets Lineup – A Different Look

But the real difference between this year and 2019 is the emergence of Michael Conforto and Dominic Smith, both of whom are seen throughout the categories in National League batting stats.

Surprises have come in small packages with 21-year-old Andres Gimenez (.287 BA .340 OBP) and Luis Guillorme (.386, .462) giving Amed Rosario (.230, .250) a run for his money in the Mets infield.

This, while last year’s poster boy for self-combustion, Edwin Diaz, has finished 19 games for the Mets with an ERA of 1.89 and 39 strikeouts in only 19 innings pitched.

Mets True To Form Playing Through Distractions

That’s the upside of the Mets as the shortened season draws to a close amid all the noise surrounding the sale of the Mets (presumably) to Steve Cohen, a noted swashbuckler with billions to spend on players for next year and beyond.

When a season winds down, a team’s remaining schedule does matter, and in the case of the Mets, they have the fortune to play their peers, and not the powerhouse teams in either league.

The Phillies (seven games) and Nationals (four games) are THE games the Mets must do well in – or else?

Sprinkled in are “rise to the occasion” games with the Atlanta Braves for three and the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays also for three, with all games scheduled for Citi Field.

Robinson Cano and the Miracle at Citi Field (Photo: New York Daily News)
Robinson Cano and the Miracle at Citi Field (Photo: New York Daily News)

The schedule is doable and totally in the hands of the Mets and their players to make or break the season.

Unlike last year, Pete Alonso is not a positive distraction to the team as a player reaching the stratosphere of a rookie season.

Instead, he’s another cog in the wheel, along with Robinson Cano (.331, .364) and Jeff McNeil (.326, .399), who are showing they can get it done when it counts as the season winds down.

Mets fans who need a boost can take comfort in a key category in the NL East standings as play starts today – run differential – the table below.

Mets: This Is A Team With Nothing To Lose And Everything To Gain

This is a Mets team that once again turned down the noise surrounding their clubhouse.

The sale of the team, the circus-like departure of Yoenis Cespedes, and Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen’s “caught on tape” reference to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred as a man who “at a leadership level, he doesn’t get it” – none of it has penetrated the team.

But with all of that, and especially the changing of the guard from the Wilpons to Steve Cohen, the Mets get a mulligan (if they need it) for this season as a team in transition.

The thing is, though, that Jacob deGrom, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, and a few others are not looking for a crutch – they’re looking to perform in the clutch.

And clutch time it is in this wild and unpredictable baseball season.

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.