Last year, I predicted the Mets would lose in the NLDS due to the Dodgers’ one-two punch of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Then I thought that there was no way the Mets could handle the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta in the NLCS. So when people say that there’s no way the Mets can beat the Giants with Madison Bumgarner on the mound in tonight’s wild card game, I direct them to 2015.
Bumgarner is a great pitcher and an incredible postseason one. I was rooting for the Cardinals to make the playoffs over the Giants just so the Mets could avoid facing Bumgarner in a winner-take-all game. But with the Mets’ depleted rotation, it’s to their benefit that it’s one game. In last year’s NLDS, Kershaw and Greinke also racked up wins against the Mets. Due to their NLCS sweep, the Mets only had to face Arrieta once.
I can’t imagine the Mets beating Bumgarner twice in one series, but one game? Why not? Even in his incredible 2014 postseason, when Bumgarner was the MVP of both the NLCS and the World Series, he lost a game in the NLCS. When the Giants won the World Series in 2012, Bumgarner lost in both the NLDS and the NLCS, failing to make it through five innings both times.
And it’s not as if the Mets don’t have their own ace on the mound in Noah Syndergaard. Thor had a great year and finished strong with a 2.84 ERA in August and a .283 ERA in September.
Bumgarner, by the way, had a 4.14 ERA in August and a 3.92 ERA in September.
It certainly doesn’t help that Bumgarner is a lefty, but who knows, maybe the suddenly hot Jay Bruce can do something that compels the Mets to pick up his option next year. (Reality check: Bruce is 3 for 23 lifetime against Bumgarner.)
The Mets last faced Bumgarner on August 18 in a crazy game in which they knocked him out after five innings and four earned runs (courtesy of a Justin Ruggiano grand slam) only to see Bumgarner homer himself off of Jacob deGrom and ultimately come away with a 10-7 win.
After that game, I wrote:
The Mets are now 60-61. They are 4 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot, with two other teams, the Marlins and Pirates, between them and the wild card sports currently held by the Giants and Cardinals….
The Mets will probably have to win about 2/3 of their remaining games to have a shot at the postseason. And it’s hard to see that happening.
But it did happen. After losing the next game of the Giants series, the Mets went 27-13 the rest of the way, the best record in baseball during that time. After winning those two games against the Mets, the Giants went 19-21.
A big part of the Giants’ troubles down the stretch was their shaky bullpen. So if this game gets into the bullpens, the Mets should have a big advantage (just don’t pull a Showalter and remember to use Jeurys Familia!).
Win or lose, the Mets deserve a lot of credit for making the playoffs despite all the injuries. I hope that David Wright, deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Neil Walker get introduced before the game with the active roster. And then let’s see the Mets knock off the Giants and head into the NLDS to face the – oh, let’s not think about that now.
Let’s Go Mets!