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Mets begin the soft part of their schedule after successfully navigating a treacherous road
The Mets' 7-9 hitters combined to go 4-for-9 with a double, home run and five RBI against the Nationals on Friday
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾
The Mets defeated the Nationals 7-3 at Citi Field on Friday (Box)
Eduardo Escobar’s second-inning two-run home run served as the keynote for the Mets offense, and Jeff McNeil contributed a three-hit night, the 12th time this season he’s had three or more hits in a game
Brandon Nimmo and Mark Canha each contributed two-hit nights, and Pete Alonso notched his 26th game-winning RBI with a solo home runas part of a four-run sixth inning
The Mets got strong production from the bottom of their lineup on Friday - the 7-9 hitters combined to go 4-for-9 with a double, home run and five RBI
Mychal Givens, Joely Rodriguez and Seth Lugo combined to give the Mets 3.2 scoreless innings of relief of David Peterson, who struggled through 5.1 IP while allowing three runs on eight hits
The Mets have won three games in a row. They’re 46-21 at home, 51-32 at night, 15-6 in series openers at home, 31-11 in series openers overall, 11-3 against the Nationals, 68-13 when scoring first, 74-0 when leading after 8, 44-19 vs the National League East, 62-5 when scoring five or more runs in a game, and 27-13 since the All-Star Game
Edwin Díaz won the National League’s Reliever of the Month Award for August, the third-straight month he has earned the honors
Injury Updates 🏥
Tylor Megill (shoulder strain) will have a couple of days off before his next rehab appearance. The Mets intend to test him on back-to-back days out of the bullpen before activating him from the injured list
Carlos Carrasco (oblique strain) will be activated from the injured list and rejoin the Mets rotation on Sunday against the Nationals
Who’s Hot 🔥
16 of Mark Canha’s 30 extra-base hits have come since July 24, a span of 33 games, having hit .303/.391/.546 with 12 doubles, four home runs and 21 RBI during that span. He had just 15 extra-base hits in his first 79 games before that date
Brandon Nimmo is 10-for-30 with five-extra base hits (three doubles, triple, home run) through eight games on the team’s current ten-game homestand
In 33 games since July 30, Jeff McNeil is hitting .397/.421/.595 with 16 doubles, three home runs, 13 RBI and 18 runs scored, notching 50 hits during that span
The Pennant Race 🏁
Magic Number to win the NL East: 2️⃣7️⃣
NL East lead: 3️⃣ games
On-pace: 1️⃣0️⃣3️⃣ wins
Playoff odds (FanGraphs):
Make the playoffs: 100 percent ↔️
Win the National League East: 85.6 percent ⬆️
Clinch a first round bye: 85.4 percent ⬆️
Win the World Series: 18.1 percent ⬆️
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (85-48) vs. Nationals (45-87)
Where: Citi Field — Flushing, New York
Starters: RHP Max Scherzer (9-4, 2.27 ERA) vs. LHP Patrick Corbin (5-17, 6.56 ERA)
When: 7:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
After a long and difficult road, the path gets a little smoother for the Mets from here…📝
The Mets have entered a stretch of their schedule where they are playing 16 straight games against teams at least 19 games under .500 starting with this three-game series against the Nationals.
And, the series started out as one might expect it would with the Mets clubbing the team with the worst pitching staff in all of baseball.
There were encouraging signs across the board for the Mets on Friday, including Eduardo Escobar’s two-run home run in the second inning, another quality effort from Mychal Givens over 1.2 IP, and even Joely Rodriguez got in on the act with a scoreless inning of his own.
But perhaps most important was Pete Alonso who homered and walked. He had only four extra-base hits over his previous 23 games and he has struggled since August 8 overall, hitting just .211/.283/.333 in 99 plate appearances during that span. But he showed renewed discipline and patience at the plate and his home run was a sight for sore eyes off of Josiah Gray in the sixth inning.
It was also his 26th game-winning RBI of the season, the most since it was officially tracked in 1974 (it’s not officially tracked anymore, by the way, but it’s still a cool stat).
Alonso had been out ahead of breaking balls and had shown specific vulnerability on high fastballs during their series against the Dodgers. He was clearly pressing, maybe trying to do a little too much at times and his slump became extended over a long stretch of games.
The amazing part about that slump though is the Mets were able to navigate around it during a mostly difficult schedule, as they went 15-9 over those 24 games since August 8. Still, the Mets will obviously need more of the Alonso which is around that extended slump down the stretch and into October.
Speaking of that difficult schedule, I wanted to take a closer look at the body of work by the Mets during that tough time in August and into September.
Since August 1, the Mets are 21-11. On that date, the Mets were ahead of the Braves by 3.5 games in the National League East and stayed that way heading into that big series against Atlanta at Citi Field.
Since that date, the Mets have lost only 1/2 game in the standings to Atlanta with the following results against each team listed:
In total, 21 of the 32 games were against playoff contenders, two of which are the best teams in the league, during which they went 12-9 against them.
Considering the strength of that schedule combined with two doubleheaders in between and injuries to Eduardo Escobar, Carlos Carrasco, Luis Guillorme, and Taijuan Walker, that’s an awfully impressive mark for the Mets. And to essentially lose no ground despite such a strong schedule under very difficult circumstances is even more impressive and a testament to the strong fabric of this club.
Meanwhile, the Braves have had a less difficult hike through the dog days of August, who are 20-10 since August 2:
Red Sox: 2-0
Look, wins are wins and kudos to Atlanta for taking advantage of what has been a much softer schedule than the Mets as of late. They dominated where they needed to dominate in August, as did the Mets. But while Atlanta had to deal with the Astros and Cardinals a bit (and to be fair, Atlanta did handle Houston while the Mets were largely inept against them earlier this year), their road to the home stretch has been far less treacherous than that for the Mets.
Yet, here we are with the Mets and Braves in basically the same position they were a month ago, except there are 30 fewer games on the schedule.
In the end, the Braves might be regretting losing 4 of 5 to the Mets at Citi Field in early August.
The strength of each team’s schedule is similar over the last month of the season, the difference being the Braves have to tangle with the Phillies seven more times along with the raging hot Mariners in Seattle next weekend. The Mets, meanwhile, won’t play a team above .500 until they get to Milwaukee on September 19, and then not again until the Mets and Braves face each other in Atlanta for three games starting September 30.
Will the Braves be up to the task when they get to Seattle? For what it’s worth, Atlanta is only 27-30 against teams over .500 this season, while the Mets are 39-30, having played 12 more games against teams over .500 to this point in the season.
So even with the remaining schedule, the Mets will have had the tougher path to the division title than the Braves thanks in part to the four extra games against the Yankees, that which Atlanta didn’t have to endure.
As such, should the Mets ultimately prevail in this race for the National League East, it would make it that much sweeter.
The objective for the Mets, of course, should be for those games at Truist Park to not matter. Even if the Mets were to need just one win in that series to wrap up the division, it would be an uncomfortable position given the history between the two clubs and in that city at that.
Reaching that goal started with their play last night against the Nationals - they must take care of their own business against the softest schedule in the league with game 162 and a division crown finally in sight.
Down on the Farm 🌾
José Buttó (RHP, No. 15 Prospect, Triple-A): 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 6 K
Dominic Hamel (RHP, Single-A): 7 IP, 3 H, 9 K
Raúl Beracierta (OF, Low-A): 2-for-4, 2B, R, RBI
Around the League 🚩
The Braves got to Cy Young candidate Sandy Alcantara for three home runs en route to an 8-1 drubbing of the Marlins in Atlanta
The Phillies were blown out by the fading Giants 13-1 at Oracle Park on Friday - three of Joe Pederson’s five RBI came on a three-run home run against Kyle Gibson who allowed seven runs before being removed after only 1.2 IP
The Rays routed the Yankees 9-0 at Tropicana Field in an 11-hit attack of Domingo German and the Yankee bullpen - New York’s lead in the American League East is down to five games over Tampa Bay
The Orioles continue to hang tough in the American League Wild Card race - they defeated the A’s 5-2 in Baltimore for their third win in a row and remained 1.5 games behind the Blue Jays for the third wild card spot
The sleepy Dodgers were routed 7-1 by the Padres at Dodger Stadium on Friday night for their third loss in a row - Yu Darvish allowed just two hits over seven innings while Manny Machado, Brandon Drury and Jurickson Profar all homered
The Mariners - who are seeking their first playoff appearance since 2001 - won for the fifth-straight time on Friday with a 6-1 victory over the Guardians, who themselves are fighting for the top spot in the American League Central