The New York Mets boldly declared themselves as the favorites in the National League East back in January, shortly after signing Jed Lowrie to a two year deal. General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen went as far as challenging the rest of the division to “come get us”, and at the moment those could go down as famous last words. The Mets have played 63 games this season and find themselves in third place in the National League East, three games below .500 and six games back of the Philadelphia Phillies. The wild card is also a possibility since the Mets are four games back of the second spot, but six teams separate them from that playoff spot.
For all that has gone right for the Mets, which includes Pete Alonso’s 20 homers, Jeff McNeil hitting over .330, and Jason Vargas pitching to an ERA of 3.57, the team remains below .500. The Mets have been playing mediocre baseball for over two months, and they are still in the race largely due to the failure of teams in the NL to gain separation in the standings. That usually doesn’t last much past the All Star Break, and teams that hope to be in it for the whole year make a big push down the stretch.
The schedule is working against the Mets as well as they don’t play a single game against a team with a losing record between now and the break. The Mets have done well against the bad teams, winning plenty of games against sub .500 competition, but have just one series victory against teams with winning records. That came way back in April, when the Mets took two out of three against the Phillies at Citi Field.
The Mets will see plenty of the two teams ahead of them in the NL East, the Phillies and the Atlanta Braves, over the next couple of weeks as well. The Braves made a play to improve themselves, signing Dallas Keuchel to bolster their rotation, and they still have a loaded farm system to land more pitching. An 11 game road trip to Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Chicago is coming up in a week and a half that could serve as the end of the Mets’ playoff chances if they’re not careful.
The 2018 season came to a crashing halt for the Mets in June, when they won just five games to put Mickey Callaway on the hot seat and establish themselves firmly as sellers. The Mets already have two wins this month, so they should do better, but Callaway is still on the hot seat and the Mets have a losing record. Hitting the break with a losing record would make it very hard to get back into the playoff hunt, even with a lighter schedule in the second half, and that could lead the Mets to sell guys like Zack Wheeler at the trade deadline. That is not what Van Wagenen and the Mets were hoping for back in January, and they need to pick up their game in order to prevent this season from spiraling out of control.