The New York Mets enter play on Monday night in Arizona against the Diamondbacks with 45 games remaining on the season. They find themselves just 2.5 games out of the second wild card spot chasing the likes of the Marlins, Pirates, and Cardinals. After completing what seemed like the impossible Sunday in winning back to back games for the first time in more than a month, I took a look at the road ahead and could not believe just how weak it is. As the Mets get healthier and the schedule gets easier, the stars may be aligning for a relevant September despite just how disappointing the season has been thus far.
Of the Mets 45 remaining games, 25 of them are against teams with a record below .500 (10 vs. Phillies, 6 vs. Braves, 3 vs. Diamondbacks, 3 vs. Reds, 3 vs. Twins). Of the 20 that are not, 14 of them are against teams they are chasing in the Wild Card race (7 vs. Marlins, 4 vs. Giants, 3. vs Cardinals), The remaining 6 games are tilts against the division leading Washington Nationals.
The Mets 25 man roster continues to get stronger with the activation of Jose Reyes and the expected returns of Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera this week on the West Coast. Defense could also improve, if the Mets choose to keep Jose Reyes at shortstop and shift Cabrera to third upon return. Reyes’ range and arm are superior to Cabrera, who is coming off his second knee injury of the season. It is also a safe assumption that the injection of Cespedes into the lineup can only help Jay Bruce, who has produced just 7 hits in 51 plate appearances since arriving in Flushing, batting .152 with a .235 OBP.
Holes, however, still exist as the team is devoid of a fifth starter spot as it basically has been all year. In games started by Matt Harvey or Logan Verrett, the Mets are 9-20. In games started by Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Bartolo Colon, and Jacob deGrom. the club is 50-38. With Jon Niese taking that spot over starting Wednesday, the struggles could likely continue. The team is also missing production out of first base, as James Loney‘s War is now at -0.1. The catching situation continues to be cold despite a strong series from Travis d’Arnaud against the Padres.
All in all, this is a team with holes. As we have seen around the league recently, most teams in the National League Wild Card hunt have similar deficiencies. In the midst of the dog days with an ever contagious injury bug, the Mets are as poised as ever to make their move against the doldrums of the MLB in the coming six weeks.