The Mets, like many of us, have kept their eyes on the Braves as potential challengers, but here are the Nationals, and they may well be real.
As Mets fans know, while the team has been in first place in the NL East standings for two months now, the lead has shrunk to two games, with the Washington Nationals riding a hot streak that threatens the Mets as we move to the All-Star break.
Given a major league baseball season that notoriously stretches over a half year on the calendar, typically, these division races tend to tighten up, and neither the Mets nor their fans can hardly be surprised.
Nevertheless, in head-to-head matchups with the Nationals in 2021, the Mets have gone 3-5, with eleven games on the docket before the regular season ends.
Each of the remaining games with the Nationals means a two-game swing in the standings, and the Mets can put everything to rest by winning (say) eight of those games – but the question surfacing is, can they outscore the Nats – or even anyone at this point?
Consider this. The average slugging percentage in 2019 (looking for 2021 stats) was .435. Here’s how the Mets look in 2021 to date:
Mets: It’s All About Their Offense
Here’s a snapshot of the Mets offense that ranks 13th of 15 teams in the National League, where .712 is the average OPS.
Mets Need Offense To Hold Down The Fort
Now, before someone says or thinking it, I will. By this weekend, the Mets should be at full strength when the last of their sidelined players return to the big club from Syracuse, where they are rehabbing.
The Mets Hold An Ace In The Hole Though…
Believing the team’s pitching staff can hold its own against anyone with Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Taijuan Walker leading the way, their attention at the trade deadline can focus solely on adding some “oomph” to their offense.
In recent years, that’s been a pie in the sky dream for Mets fans and the players in the clubhouse, as the penny-pinching Wilpons held the reins on the payroll.
Enter Steve Cohen, and everything changes.
As a measured and wildly successful businessman, Cohen will need to be convinced by Acting GM Jake Scott and Sandy Alderson that a push over the $210 million luxury tax limit is warranted, and the player(s) coming on board will make the difference, enabling the Mets to win the division.
While there’s no point in naming names of the players the Mets should pursue, as this is a variable and ever-changing part of the conversation with potential trading partners, it’s no secret the team needs a major league centerfielder.
The same holds regarding players the team might need to surrender, as this depends on the needs of the same trading partner(s).
One thing holds, however.
The Mets, from Steve Cohen on down, know there is no guarantee from year to year; the opportunity presented to them will be there next year or the year after that.
While the Mets have pretty much done it with smoke and mirrors till now, with thanks to the Bench Mob et al., the Nationals have risen to a point as a legitimate contender for the top spot in the division, and who knows, with a move or two the Braves could suddenly awaken as well.
Mets: The Front Office Will Come Through
Halfway through, all we know is the Mets are (legitimately halfway there.
While the Mets players in the clubhouse undoubtedly believe they have what they need to win the division, logic says they need help offensively.
For once in a long time, the stage is set to make that happen with a flurry of activity from the Mets front office…
Here’s What Readers are Saying…
Pablo D Santo One thing for sure, they (Nationals) can hit
Peter Stefanou They (Nats) are real
Scott Larned Without catastrophic injuries to any one team, the NL East will be a four-team race into September. Trade deadline should be interesting to see who acquires who. All four teams with different needs…
Michael Tartamella Fortunately Washington is playing the Dodgers for 4 games Thu-Sun. LA is up 6-2 now and are throwing Urias, Kershaw & Bauer the rest of the way.