By Paul DiSclafani:
Actually, the last time we brunched together it was in April. Quite a different perspective on this 2016 baseball season between now and then, eh?
Although we all agreed that the Mets were coming into the season with the best rotation in baseball, there was some trepidation about relying too heavily on all of these guys (including counting on Zach Wheeler to return from TJ surgery in July) to breeze through 2016 the way they breezed through the last two months of the 2015 season.
Many fans felt that the front office should have done a little more with the lineup. They did fill some holes – Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker to name a few, but we all knew David Wright was a question mark. Actually, we felt that him playing in even 100 games would be a miracle.
But geeze Louise, what happened while we were all out enjoying the beach?
We expected to be settling in on Labor Day weekend with the Nationals in town and looking closely at that last 10-game home stand in September, trying to guess which game was going to be the “clincher” so we could be there with them as they celebrate another NL East title on our field for the first time. I circled Friday, September 23rd against the Phillies.
Instead, we have only three players from that Opening Day lineup (a 4-3 loss to the Royals) that are still playing regularly today – Curtis Granderson, Yoenis Cespedes and Cabrera. You can quibble about Travis d’Arnaud, so if you want, make it four.
That still leaves four gigantic pieces that we were counting on (and did not plan on replacing for long periods of time) out for the season – Wright, Lucas Duda, Walker and Juan Lagares (remember him?).
Oh yeah, did I mention that of the six starters that we were all touting in April, only one of them is pitching injury free. The ageless Bartolo Colon, who was supposed to be moved into the bullpen in July when Wheeler returned, is the only starting pitcher who can still take the ball every fifth game.
Matt Harvey didn’t make it to July and Wheeler didn’t make it back at all. Steven Matz has been hit and miss while pitching through bone chips in his elbow and is facing off-season surgery. Jacob DeGrom is finally being shut down (they call it “skipped”) after a month of miserable, unexplained issues (can’t wait to hear the final report on him). And Noah Syndergaard also has bone chip issues and has not been dominant in any way, shape or form.
That leaves us with a rotation that includes Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Rafael Montero going into those final 26 games. Sheesh…
Want some good news? All of the other teams fighting for one of the two Wild Card spots are within our reach. The Mets are just one game out of the final Wild Card spot and just 3.5 out of the first one.
Have you seen the Mets remaining schedule? It starts with a road trip through Cincinnati (3), Atlanta (3) and Washington (3), then continues with a final home stand with Minnesota (3), Atlanta again (3) and Philadelphia (4). The final road trip of the season goes through Miami (3) and Philadelphia (3).
That’s one team (Washington) with a winning record, the .500 Marlins, our personal patsies the Phillies and three teams in last place in their division (Atlanta, Cincinnati and Minnesota) – two of them with winning percentages under .400 and the worst record in their respective leagues (Atlanta and Minnesota).
Of course, these may still be the National League Champion Mets on paper, but certainly not on the field.
The question is, what happens if the Mets DO get to the Wild Card game and somehow find a way to win it? What then? A five game series against the Cubs looms as their reward.
Unfortunately, the Mets roster as it is currently constructed is all we’ve got. There is no Cavalry coming. No players on IR getting ready to return. As a matter of fact, we Mets fans hold our breath every morning hoping no one else gets hurt.
As they say, “It is what it is”. This is the hand we’ve been dealt. Time to play the cards, or fold ‘em and go home.
We’ve got 26 games left and need to play just two games better than the Cardinals, Pirates and Marlins. Then we will take our chances in a one-game Wild-Card with either Syndergaard or Colon on the hill. Not too shabby.
It may not be what we were expecting last time we chatted in April, but I still have my tickets for September 23rd against the Phillies. I’m sure Terry Collins and the Mets will show up. Will you?
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Any reason (other than ESPN saying so) that the Mets are scheduled to play a game tonight while we are under a tropical storm warning, then expected to get on a plane and fly to Cincinnati for a 1pm game tomorrow? Who allows that to happen? … And no, I don’t think that the Mets made a mistake in not signing Daniel Murphy to a 3-year deal. We offered him a lot of money to stay for one year and he wanted more security (and less money) for his family. Besides, he would have been injured in July anyway … Can someone please open negotiations with Cespedes’ agent today? Could you imagine where this team would be without that bat in the lineup? … Michael Conforto needs to be in the lineup as much as possible … Not throwing in the towel on Jay Bruce just yet … How important has Jose Reyes been to this lineup? … Mets need to come to grips with six innings from all of their starting pitchers all the time and have people ready to go. With the September call ups, we should have plenty of guys that can get three outs, right? …
Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com. “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.