There are a multitude of reasons why the Mets are only a game over .500 and 3.5 games back of the Cardinals for the second Wild Card.
The most popular excuse is injuries. There is some validity there with Matt Harvey, Lucas Duda, and David Wright gone for the year. Yoenis Cespedes was hobbled by a quad injury before he was finally forced to go on the disabled list. Now that he’s back, he has a heel issue. Both Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are dealing with bone spurs. Matz is also dealing with a shoulder issue that landed him on the disabled list. For what it’s worth, Jon Niese is also on the disabled list as he needs arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
That’s a litany of injuries, and that’s not all of them. However, that’s not the Mets biggest problem. The Mets biggest problem is they’re not beating the Mets they are supposed to beat.
Over the past two weeks, the Mets went 1-5 against the woeful Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks can’t best anyone as represented by their 53-75 record, which is a 93 loss pace.
The Padres are on the same 93 loss pace with a 53-74 record. On the season, the Mets could only muster a 4-3 record against them.
The Mets are 7-6 against the Braves this year. The Braves are well on their way to a 100 loss season with a 46-82 record.
The Mets are 5-4 against the Phillies. The Phillies are near a 90 loss pace with a 59-68 record. With the Phillies rolling into town, the Mets can turn that 5-4 mark to an 8-4 mark.
Fact is the Mets need to do that if they have designs on getting back to the postseason. Keep in mind, beating teams like the Phillies and Braves powered the Mets run to a division title.
In 2015, the Mets were 90-72, which is 18 games over .500. Against the Phillies, Braves, and Marlins, three teams that lost over 90 games, the Mets were a combined 36-21. Against just those three terrible teams, the Mets went 15 games over .500. It goes a long way in explaining why the Mets were 18 games over .500 and won the division.
Currently, the Mets are 64-63. Against the aforementioned second division clubs, the Mets are 17-18, one game under .500. If the Mets played those 35 games at a similar clip than they did against the intradivision 90+ loss teams in 2015, the Mets would’ve gone 22-13. That would mean that the Mets would be a more respectable 69-58. That would’ve put them in a tie with the Giants for the first Wild Card and five games back in the division.
Now, if the Mets beat the aforementioned second division clubs at the same rate other teams beat them, their record against those teams would be 21-14. This means the Mets record would be 68-59 giving them a half game lead for the second Wild Card and putting them a game behind the Giants for the first Wild Card.
Overall, people can point to injuries all they want, but the simple fact is even with those injuries, the Mets were still better than the Phillies, Braves, Diamondbacks, and Padres. They just didn’t play like it.
The Mets have a chance to reverse course. Of their remaining 35 games, 22 of them are against teams under .500. If the Mets truly want to win the Wild Card, they’ll need to destroy those opponents like they did in 2015. That begins tonight when the Mets begin their three game set against the Phillies.