As the New York Mets enjoy their last off day of the season their postseason outlook is bleak. After dropping two of three to the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend, the Mets are 21-26 and have just a 27.5 percent chance of reaching the playoffs. Despite the long odds, the Mets are only two games out of a playoff spot and would need to climb over four teams to get there. So what would it take for the Mets to get to October? Let’s look at the path.
The Mets have to 10-3
Going 10-3 would mean the Mets finish 31-29 and a winning record should do enough to get them into the eight-team playoff field. The issue, obviously, is that this Mets’ team hasn’t shown enough consistency to make anyone believe they can win 10 out of 13 at this point. How does that happen now?
Take advantage of a tired Phillies team
While the Mets played three games in five days the Phillies played seven against the Marlins in Miami. Those games didn’t go great for Philadelphia, which dropped five to fall into third place in the division and flew back home tonight. The Mets should take advantage of the rest and get themselves even with the Phillies in the loss column by sweeping the series.
Maximize the best starters
This definition includes Jacob deGrom, Seth Lugo and David Peterson. The Mets are already pitching deGrom every fifth day, so he will take the ball on Wednesday and should start three games before the season concludes. Lugo should also get three with Peterson making two starts, meaning the Mets need to maximize their wins in those starts.
Play the best players
Unless someone needs a day off the Mets need to stop doing goofy things like hitting Todd Frazier cleanup against left-handed pitching. The Mets clearly have a top nine players and those guys should get the vast majority of the at-bats.
Luis Rojas needs to manage with a greater sense of urgency
The past several weeks have seen Rojas punt games on occasion due to issues with bullpen management. That can’t happen as the Mets’ lackluster play has left no margin for error. Any tactical advantage needs to be taken, including pushing successful starters deeper even if they are nearing pitching count limits.
Stop running into outs on the bases
This has been nearly as big a killer as the team’s woes with runners in scoring position. The Mets have been handing opponents extra outs with sloppy baserunning that has short-circuited rallies all year long. Cleaning up this aspect of the game could keep innings alive and produce more offense for the staff.
Consider using starters in relief on throw days
The Mets’ bullpen isn’t deep to begin with so they could look to take advantage of their starter’s throw days to steal extra outs. This is a strategy the Washington Nationals used to great success in the postseason in 2019, which is basically the position the Mets are in now. Imagine if the Mets were able to use deGrom for an inning on his throw day to pitch the eighth inning of a 2-1 game. That type of creative thinking could mask a unit that has seen few reliable options emerge all season.