Slugger Jay Bruce picked a perfect time to be swinging a hot bat again. The all-star outfielder has been mired in an offensive slump since being acquired from the Reds at the trade deadline. But that has changed in the last few weeks. Bruce has been on a tear as we inch closer to securing a National League wild card spot.
“Since the day I got here, that’s all I wanted to do,” Bruce told the New York Daily News. “I didn’t want to be anyone that I wasn’t. I just wanted to come in here and play good baseball, be a professional and contribute to the team.”
Of late, the entire team has been contributing as we hold a one-game lead over of the San Francisco Giants for the first wild-card spot. It looks more and more like it will be us and Giants squaring off in a win-or-go-home wild-card matchup.
While we’re getting production at the plate, Terry Collins is focusing on keeping what’s left of our depleted starting rotation fresh as we look to make another deep playoff run.
We were dealt a major blow in July when right-hander Matt Harvey was shut down with thoracic outlet syndrome, which required season-ending surgery to fix. Jacob DeGrom also required elbow-surgery, which requires at least three months’ recovery. Throw Steven Matz’s name into the group of injured starters, the southpaw also forced into a season-ending shoulder surgery.
Noah Syndergaard, who has emerged as our ace, will be the likely starting pitcher for a wild-card game. But after that, things get somewhat murky on the mound. Veteran Bartolo Colon is now the clear No. 2, followed by rookies Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman.
Despite our rotation being hit hard by the injury bug, online sportsbook Bet365.com still gives us a +1800 odds to win the World Series. The Giants — our likely wild-card opponent — are +3000 underdogs to win it all.
We’ve squared off with the Giants seven times during the 2016 campaign, with New York holding a 4-3 advantage heading into the post-season. In our last meeting in August, likely wild-card game starting pitcher Syndergaard earned the win on the mound in a 2-0 win over the Giants. While it would be a close match, we have proven they we outduel the Giants — especially if comes down to one game.
Let’s not count out the St. Louis Cardinals — another team we’ve had some success against in 2016. The Cards are also in the race, sitting just one game behind the Giants for the second wild-card spot.
In six meetings between the us and Cardinals this season, Collins’ club owns a 3-3 record. But we’ve produced 27 runs in those games.
It’s no secret that we will need to rely on power hitters Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes if we’re going to repeat the same magic from a year ago. Cespedes has been in and out of the lineup all season long, but has still managed to produce remarkable offensive numbers.
The center fielder leads the team in home runs (31), RBIs (85) and batting average (.283). Veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson has also been a breath of fresh air as the 35-year-old recorded his fourth 30-plus home run season. Granderson will also be called upon in the team’s wild card game to come up with clutch hits and maybe even a key bunt to help us advance to the NLDS.
Anything is possible once you get past the wild-card game. Vegas oddsmakers place the us at 10/1 to win the National League Pennant behind the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers.
A final three-game series against the lowly Philadelphia Phillies is exactly what the doctor ordered, as we can clinch a wild card berth this weekend.
A series sweep heading into the playoffs would inject us with an extra dose of confidence, which is always a good thing when coming up against the best clubs in the major leagues. If you believe in us, place a bet on the staggering +1800 to win the World Series and watch what we’re made of in October.