Okay everyone, there’s really no way to sugarcoat what has occurred to the New York Mets thus far in the 2017 season. Mets’ All-Star starting pitcher and ace, Noah Syndergaard, hasn’t been on the mound since late April with torn a lat muscle and will miss at least two more months. Our All-Star closer, Jeurys Familia, recently joined Syndergaard on the 60-day disabled list after having surgery to remove a blood clot in his shoulder. He could be done for the season.
The team’s best hitter, All-Star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, hasn’t played since April 23 but could return soon. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was just added to the DL with a thumb injury. Third baseman and captain David Wright hasn’t played this season yet due to shoulder troubles, and it would be surprising if he ever does again. Pitcher Matt Harvey has acted like a knucklehead off the field and thrown like a journeyman on it. We could go on.
As most of you know, the Mets are riding a seven-game losing streak and find themselves six games under .500 at 16-23. They are nine games behind the first-place Washington Nationals in the NL East. The Nats are the biggest division favorites in baseball at -2000 on BookMaker while the Mets are +900. About 10 days ago, Washington was -1200. Check out SBR’s Bookmaker review and visit their website for more MLB futures odds.
Things look grim for the Mets, but it’s not an impossible task to recover and still win the division. Yes, it likely would take an injury or two to a key Nationals player such as Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg (and he’s injury-prone) for the possibility to exist. But consider the 2015 Texas Rangers. On May 18 of that season, they were 16-22 and 8.5 games behind Houston in the AL West. The Rangers won the division with an 88-74 record, two games ahead of Houston. So it can happen.
Texas played that entire season without its All-Star ace, Yu Darvish, due to Tommy John surgery. The team did make a deal around the July 31 trade deadline, however, in landing lefty Cole Hamels from Philadelphia. The Mets don’t appear inclined to be buyers this season with all that has happened, and team brass has said that top prospect Amed Rosario is untouchable. There isn’t much behind Rosario or first base prospect Dominic Smith that other teams would want.
In my opinion, the Mets should simply promote Rosario right now and hope for a youthful infusion with a modest upgrade on offense and defense over what they have now. Mets fans need only look at the 2005 Yankees for what can happen by doing just such a thing. That year, the Bombers were eight games under .500 and nine out of first place in the AL East on May 6. GM Brian Cashman didn’t have a fire sale, instead promoting top prospects like second baseman Robinson Cano and pitcher Chien-Ming Wang. They and some veteran band-aids helped the Yankees win the division at 95-67. Cano was second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Most likely, any shot at the Mets reaching the playoffs a third straight season for the first time in franchise history will be via one of the two wild-card spots. As of this writing, New York was only six games out of the second spot in the NL. Three teams ahead of them, Cincinnati, Atlanta and Pittsburgh, figure to fade.
The Cubs probably win the NL Central so wipe them off the wild-card chart. That leaves the likes of St. Louis, Milwaukee (if you believe in the Brewers), Colorado and Arizona battling the Mets for the two spots. I didn’t mention the Dodgers because they are still -favorites to win the NL West by most odds makers despite trailing the Rockies and Diamondbacks, and they should end up winning that division when all is said and done.
As for the Mets, all I’m saying is that there’s still a lot of season left to play and as I’ve shown teams have come back from similar circumstances to handily win their division. I do think that promoting Rosario can help make that happen in combination with the return of Cespedes, and with Steven Matz and Seth Lugo less than two weeks away. We still have a fighting chance, and if we can hang on until Syndergaard returns after the All Star break, I believe it’s all going to come together for us. So keep watching and keep believing.