New York Mets, somehow, remain in the mix with a month to go

New York Mets, somehow, remain in the mix with a month to go

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New York Mets, somehow, remain in the mix with a month to go

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Over the past few years here we have taken a look at the New York Mets’ season on a month-by-month basis. July only featured a handful of games, so our first monthly assessment for 2020 comes in August. The picture that the Mets have painted isn’t pretty since they are just 15-20 with 25 games left to go. In most years, that would be enough to bury the Mets in the standings, but thanks to the expanded postseason format they remain alive for a playoff berth.

Aug 31, 2020; New York City, New York, USA; Miami Marlins right fielder Matt Joyce (7) is forced out at second base by New York Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil (6) during the fourth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The first month of the year was defined by teases from the Mets, who showed off their potential by getting on base at a prodigious clip but failing to drive in nearly enough runs. The pitching staff has been ravaged by injuries with the Mets reaching a point of desperation where they moved both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo back into the rotation. Moving Lugo was a highly questionable decision that is already backfiring on the Mets as Edwin Diaz has failed to move past his 2019 struggles, blowing saves in key moments throughout the year.

The season has also seen disappointing performances from Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil, two of the Mets’ key young stars. McNeil hasn’t been the same since he crashed into the wall against Washington a few weeks back while Alonso has failed to capitalize on plenty of opportunities with runners in scoring position. The Mets have also seen their fair share of gut-punching brutal losses, including the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader with the New York Yankees, when Jared Hughes and Diaz (with an assist from poor defense from Andres Gimenez) coughed up a 7-2 lead before losing in extras.

The Mets have had their fair share of good performances though, including a breakthrough on offense from Dominic Smith, who is hitting .326 with seven home runs and 26 RBI’s, leading the team in the latter two categories. Robinson Cano has also looked sharp, hitting .375 with six homers and 17 RBI’s, while Michael Conforto (.317/5/17) and Luis Guillorme (.400 batting average) have gotten off to hot starts.

The biggest positive for the Mets on the mound is that Jacob deGrom has picked up right where he left on in 2019, going 2-1 with a 1.76 ERA over his first seven starts. deGrom could easily have five wins if not for some shoddy efforts out of the Mets’ bullpen. Lugo has been stellar, pitching to a 2.12 ERA, while David Peterson (3.51 ERA), Hughes (2.70 ERA) and Chasen Shreve (2.35 ERA) have all been very productive.

The crazy thing is that despite all the misfortune the Mets have faced they begin play on September 1 just two games out of a postseason spot. The Mets are only one game off of their projected schedule due to a brief coronavirus-related shutdown, that coming Thursday as a makeup with the New York Yankees at Citi Field. The Mets do have only one series remaining with the Braves and Nationals, but also get seven very important games with the Philadelphia Phillies. The AL East also is a big factor in the Mets’ schedule since they play four games with Baltimore as well as three a piece with red-hot Toronto (in Buffalo) and Tampa Bay (at Citi Field).

The logical assumption is that the Mets will have to finish at least .500 to reach the postseason, so a 15-10 finish is the minimum the Mets have to do to reach October. Playing a 17-8 clip would all but secure a spot, although it is hard to see how the Mets would play like that after their sluggish play to date. The good news is that the Mets still have plenty of talent, which GM Brodie Van Wagenen reinforced with the additions of Todd Frazier, Miguel Castro and Robinson Chirinos at the deadline yesterday. With a new owner coming after the season, this stretch could determine a lot about how much turnover is coming to the front office and roster after the year.

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