The Mets will play 162 games this season, just like every other team in baseball. However, unlike in other leagues, their schedule is unique. Major League Baseball does not have a balanced schedule, so each team’s schedule is a bit harder or a bit easier than others.
Now that we are just about a week out from Opening Day, let’s take a more detailed look at what the Mets will be up against this season. With the new league format in which there are 15 teams in each league, the Mets will have interleague play spread out throughout the year, starting with the Twins the second week in April. In total, the Mets play 20 interleague games, 19 games against each team in the division, and 66 other games within the National League.
To gauge how difficult the Mets’ schedule is, I compiled the 2012 winning percentages and pythagorean winning percentages (what their record should be based on their runs scored and runs allowed) from the 2012 season, and broke down the results month-by-month.
The Mets will start off the season with a very easy schedule, probably their easiest month of the season. With all the injuries right now, they may not be able to capitalize on the easy opponents early, which would make it very difficult to get above .500 for the first time since 2008. Their April opponents had a .476 winning percentage and .479 pythagorean winning percentage, both significantly worse than any month the rest of the season.
Once May starts, the schedule gets a whole lot tougher. During the month of May, the Mets play some tough teams like the Reds, Cardinals, and White Sox. From then on, with the exception of August, the schedule is very, very tough. August is a bit different, as the Mets get to play the Padres, Royals, and Rockies.
There’s more going on here than just 2012 win-loss record, however. Every season, there are teams that see big changes over the offseason, including some on the Mets schedule. Their 2012 records won’t tell the whole story, so the Mets may have some tougher and some easier stretches than last year’s data predicts:
- St. Louis Cardinals- 7 games: The Cardinals hit their way into the postseason last year with a very short-handed roster compared to their 2011 team, which won the World Series. After losing Albert Pujols and Edwin Jackson to free agency along with Chris Carpenter to injury, the rest of the roster stepped up. After losing a few more guys this past winter, however, it looks like it won’t be possible for the Cardinals to repeat what they did last year. They failed to re-sign Kyle Lohse and lost Rafael Furcal to Tommy John Surgery. Those two alone are worth about 5 fWAR between them. Now their closer Jason Motte is hurt as well, possibly seriously. Now a .500 record seem more likely than playoff baseball.
- Cleveland Indians- 3 games: The Indians were extremely aggressive this winter, spending over $120 million in the free agent market. As Mets fans know, they snatched up Michael Bourn on a four-year deal along with Nick Swisher, Brett Myers, and Mark Reynolds. They also made a big move via the trade market, dealing Shin-Soo Choo and three others in a three-team deal, acquiring Drew Stubbs to complete the outfield, as well as top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer. The Mets only have three games for the Indians this season but what previously looked like a possible three-game sweep for the Mets could now be a sweep for Cleveland.
- New York Yankees- 4 games: The Mets meet the Yankees in late-May with a four-game series split between Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. It seems like for years, Mets fans have been saying hopefully that it would be the year the Yankees are finally too old. Well, this may be the year. Alex Rodriguez looks like he could miss the majority of the season. Mark Teixeira could miss much of it as well. For the first time in a while, they stodd pat for the offseason, which will end up really hurting them this year. They are depleted and the guys they have remaining are injury-prone.
- Miami Marlins- 19 games: The Marlins are a completely different team from a year ago. Going into last year, they had a roster with some very big names. Now, the cupboard is completely bare and the team looks terrible. Just looking at fWAR, the players the Marlins lost this winter were worth 18.5 wins last year while their additions totaled just 3.6 wins. The Marlins lost 93 games last season, but they could be well over 100 losses by the time 2013 is over.
- Philadelphia Phillies- 19 games: This is really a tough one. I could really see the Phillies going either way. They could get healthy and make a run at the playoffs, or they could slip into mediocrity and win less than 75. They are the biggest wild card right now in the NL East. The keys for them will by Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Both haven’t been themselves the past few seasons and as they’ve grown older, their power numbers have dissipated along with their health. It also remains to be seen how much their once-great rotation has left with Vance Worley gone and Roy Halladay not pitching like himself.
Even with some opponents looking much worse than last season, the Mets will still have to deal with the Nationals and Braves 19 times each, which will be very tough with the improved rosters those two organizations put together. We’ll see how it all plays out. If there’s one thing the Mets have to do, however, if they want any shot at making noise in the Wild Card race, it’s play well early on.