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Full-scale letdown in Atlanta puts Mets on the brink in the NL East
Max Scherzer and the offense fail the Mets as they lose again in Atlanta. Plus, how this club is on the precipice of losing grip of the division.
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾
The Mets lost to the Braves 4-2 at Truist Park on Saturday night (box)
New York was let down by one of their aces for the second straight game as RHP Max Scherzer allowed four runs over just 5.1 innings with only four strikeouts
The offense also doomed the Mets once again, scoring just two runs for the second straight night and hitting zero extra-base hits
2B Jeff McNeil was one of the few hitters that did contribute, going 2-for-4 with an RBI single
LF Mark Canha is now 11-for-his-last 60 (.183) with two extra-base hits (zero home runs), zero RBI and 20 strikeouts
The Mets have now lost five of their last six games against the Braves, and are a full game out of first place for the first time all season
The Pennant Race 🏁
The Mets have clinched a postseason berth (9/19)
NL East deficit: 1️⃣ game
Magic Number to win NL East: 6️⃣
Win pace: 1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣
Playoff odds (Fangraphs):
Win the National League East: 39.2 percent ⬇️
Clinch a first round bye: 39.2 percent ⬇️
Win the World Series: 13.8 percent ⬇️
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (98-60) at Braves (99-59)
Where: Truist Park — Atlanta, GA
Starters: RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) vs. RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29 ERA)
When: 7:08 PM EDT
Where to Watch: ESPN
Mets full-scale Atlanta meltdown is all-too-familiar… 📝
Through two pivotal games, what exactly has gone right for the Mets in Atlanta?
For this franchise, that is a question that resurfaces an all-too-familiar feeling harkening back to the late ‘90s and early 2000s.
Turner Field may be gone, but Atlanta is still proving to be a house of horrors for the Mets late in this season. After once holding a 7-3 edge in the season series, the Mets are now just 1-5 in their last six games vs the Braves — all six of those games coming in Atlanta.
And so far in this series in particular, it’s been a full-scale meltdown in essentially every phase of the game.
First off, their two aces have completely let them down so far. The Mets reset their starting rotation this weekend to have their absolute best taking the hill and in rather shocking fashion, they have not gotten the job done whatsoever. In this team’s biggest regular season series in seven years, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, the two men looked at as the biggest reason this team could legitimately win the World Series this year, combined to allow seven earned runs in just 11.1 innings pitched. Both left the game earlier than you’d expect, both gave up crucial home runs on very poorly located pitches, and both blew leads pretty much immediately after the offense clawed out a run.
Games like this are why these two aces are here, and for them to not get it done has left this team a bit shellshocked.
“It feels terrible,” Brandon Nimmo said after Saturday night’s loss. “Those are our guys. Those are our best shots and they stuffed them in our face. It doesn't feel good at all.”
And while the Mets have absolutely been let down by their aces, they have other major problems afoot right now.
We’ve talked about it a lot this month, but once again this offense has just completely vanished when needed the most. The Mets have scored just two runs in each of the two games in Atlanta so far, have never lead by more than a single run at any point and have just two extra-base hits and one solo home run. The Braves, conversely, have nine extra-base hits and five homers in the first two games.
While the Mets were never a power-hitting team they have dropped off in that department even more this month to an alarming level, and that’s been on fully display here. You’re not going to single teams to death in the postseason, the pitching is just too good on the other side.
While he has a productive .767 OPS since August 10th, Francisco Lindor has hit just five home runs over his last 47 games. Daniel Vogelbach has just one home run over his last 25 games, while the combination of Darin Ruf, Mark Vientos and Francisco Álvarez, the three right-handed DHs in the second half, have a total of one home run over their last 101 at-bats. Over his last 60 at-bats, they’ve gotten zero home runs and zero RBI from Mark Canha. And while you don’t look at them as power hitters of any sorts, Brandon Nimmo has hit just four home runs over his last 57 games while Jeff McNeil has none since August 9th, a span of 197 plate appearances.
And while yes, Pete Alonso (though not over the last few nights when they’ve needed it most) is one of the best power bats in the game and they’ve gotten a wildly hot month out of Eduardo Escobar, this significant team-wide power outage does not bode well for the final four games of this regular season or the postseason.
Whether this is just a random month-long trend we’re seeing from this all-or-nothing offense or it’s a case of a baseball team that simply isn’t ready for the moment, the one thing that can be said is that thing offense simply hasn’t shown up so far.
And now the Mets are where they are. They are one game back with four to play, and have to win tonight to keep their chances of a division title at play. But is there anything to show you over the last two days that would make you think a dramatic turnaround is on the horizon?
This is the best regular season Mets team of my lifetime, and I acknowledge that they’ve won 98 games and are in the postseason no matter what but if they were to let this division slip away after being in first place for 170 days this season, holding the easiest schedule in baseball all month long and having everything in their own control going down the stretch — it would be an incredible disappointment. And with that disappointment would bring the even greater challenge of having to win a full extra round in the playoffs, then going into the L.A. Dodgers gauntlet in a best-of-five if you even got that far. It makes this marketably more difficult for this team in their quest to win a championship.
Tonight they have one last shot at reclaiming the NL East for themselves. With a win, destiny is in their own hands entering the final three games of the season. With a loss, it will just mark the latest Atlanta meltdown for a franchise that has plenty of them, and another pennant race that someone else got the better of them in.
The Mets will need Chris Bassitt to do what their other aces could not, and even more importantly for this offense to come alive when they’re needed the most. If they don’t, this team will spend the last few days of the regular season preparing for a Wild Card Series no one thought they’d have to play in, while another one of their division rivals gets to celebrate.
Around the League 🚩
Angels RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani agreed to a record one-year, $30 million contract to avoid arbitration for the 2023 season
The Phillies split a doubleheader in Washington to maintain their lead over the final Wild Card spot, while the Brewers blew a 9th inning lead to the Marlins
The Padres slugged three home runs against the White Sox to reduce their magic number to one
The Yankees blew out the Orioles 8-0, but OF Aaron Judge remains at 61 home runs on the season