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Mets cruise to a series win over the Pirates, and an examination of the remaining schedule
The Mets have three off-days during the final 18 days of the season, while the Braves have only one
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾️
The Mets took their series with the Pirates with a convincing 5-1 win at Citi Field on Saturday night (Box)
The Mets notched just five hits on the night, but one of them was a three-run home run from Eduardo Escobar in the third inning which put the Mets ahead for good. They scored another run on run scoring walks to Brandon Nimmo in the sixth and Pete Alonso in the eighth
The Mets got a great bounce back performance from Chris Bassitt, who allowed just three hits with eight strikeouts over six innings
David Peterson looked strong in his new role as a left-handed reliever out of the bullpen, although he ended up allowing a solo home to Rodolfo Castro in the ninth
The Mets are now 48-26 at home, 9-7 in September, 33-10-3 in series, 16-5-2 in series at home, 74-13 when scoring first, 81-0 when leading after eight innings, 20-9 against the National League Central, 71-27 when they hit at least one home run, 68-5 when scoring five or more runs, and 34-20 since the All-Star Game
Roster Moves 📰
Mychal Givens placed on the COVID-19 injured list
Stephen Nogosek activated from the injured list
Injury Updates 🏥
Max Scherzer (oblique) has officially been named the club’s starter for Monday’s series opener against the Brewers in Milwaukee
Mychal Givens (COVID-19 IL) has no specified timetable for a return
Starling Marte (fractured finger) attempted baseball activities but was still in considerable pain before shutting down. He is still hopeful of returning before the end of the regular season
Drew Smith (strained lat) allowed a hit in a scoreless inning of relief for Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday
Tylor Megill (shoulder strain) is expected to be activated as a reliever on Monday
Who’s Hot 🔥
Eduardo Escobar is hitting .397/.443/1.205 with three doubles, a triple, six home runs and 12 RBI over his last 18 games
Daniel Vogelbach has reached base in seven of his last eight appearances
Brandon Nimmo has a .394 on-base percentage over his last 28 games, having drawn 21 walks and three HBP with 26 hits in 128 plate appearances during that span
The Pennant Race 🏁
NL East lead: 1️⃣ game
Magic Number to clinch a playoff berth: 4️⃣
Magic Number to win NL East: 1️⃣6️⃣
Playoff odds (Fangraphs):
Win the National League East: 67.5 percent ⬇️
Clinch a first round bye: 67.4 percent ⬇️
Win the World Series: 16.8 percent ⬇️
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (92-55) vs Pirates (55-91)
Where: Citi Field — Flushing, New York
Starters: RHP Jacob deGrom (5-2, 2.01 ERA) vs. RHP Johan Oviedo (3-2, 3.34 ERA)
When: 1:40 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
A potential disadvantageous schedule is ahead for the Mets, but they’re mitigating that risk… 📝
If only the Mets had started this 16 game stretch with the same kind of inspiring play they have displayed over the last three nights against the Pirates, yeah?
Perhaps that embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Cubs earlier in the week got the Mets going.
The Mets have now won three in a row against a team they should have three straight wins against. Their offense is still a little hit and miss right now but they’re coming up with big hits when they need them, getting great work on the mound, getting production out of two spots in the lineup they have sorely lacked (DH and the catcher), and in the end, winning games they need to win despite some of the concerns sandwiched in-between.
In the end, wins are wins, especially during this part of the baseball calendar. Each win means not only one fewer game to play but another number chopped off the magic number boards which is all that matters right now.
Speaking of the baseball calendar, that’s something which has been on my mind for the last few days, specifically around what that looks like for the Mets and Braves over the final two and a half weeks of the season.
The Mets have the luxury of three off-days during the final 18 days of the regular season schedule. The Braves are a little less fortunate there as they are currently in the middle of 13 straight games before their next off-day, that which comes before what is going to be perhaps the defining moment in the race for the National League East title. I am not even going to bother with the strength of schedule discussion - we all know how easy it is for both clubs (and the Braves so far have shown no blips in the first two of their seven games against the Phillies over the next week).
The issue for the Mets is they’ve played two more games than the Braves so far and have the same number of losses. Now, on the two days the Braves are playing while the Mets are off over the next eight days, Atlanta is facing the Phillies in Philadelphia and the Nationals in Washington. And, while the Mets are in Milwaukee this week (facing a resurgent Brewers club, I should add), the Braves will be hosting the Nationals.
Assuming everything stays the same over the next three days (and assumption of course is the root of all evil), the Mets will be seriously banking on the Phillies winning on Thursday while they’re off. They’ll again be banking on the Nationals beating the Braves on September 26 when they’re off.
Given how well Atlanta has played over the last three months, none of those are safe bets. Like, at all.
Even so, such a scenario would give the Mets a two-game lead heading into their two-game series against the Marlins on September 27. If that were to hold going into their series against the Braves, the Mets would need to win two out of three against the Braves in Atlanta to win the division (remember, just one win in that series clinches a season-series win for the Mets, as there are no tie breakers now).
Should the Mets lose two out of three, that would mean they’d have a one-game lead in this scenario with three to go with a magic number of two thanks to owning the tiebreaker. If they were to somehow get swept in Atlanta (you all know you’ve seen that movie before in September/October in that city, don’t deny it!), they would be down two games with three to go.
Now, the outcomes leading up to that series in Atlanta might very well be idealism churning in my brain. And since this isn’t an ideal world (especially with the way the Braves have played over the last three months), it just doesn’t seem like the Mets have the favorable schedule here because of those off-days. That sounds kind of crazy, but this is why the loss column numbers are always such a critical part of the discussion.
But, here’s the good news.
The Mets have not-so-subtly setup their rotation for the final stretch as well as they can.
With Jacob deGrom starting today against the Pirates, the Mets officially announced Max Scherzer will be activated from the injured list tomorrow and make a start against the Brewers in Milwaukee. deGrom’s next start will come next Saturday in Oakland, followed by Scherzer in Oakland a week from day.
What’s the following weekend?
That series against the Braves with deGrom and Scherzer available to start the first two games of that series in Atlanta with one extra day of rest each. That is the series Buck Showalter and the Mets have to pull out all the stops and run like a playoff series (assuming it matters, of course, which you know it will whether they’re in first or second place) and the rotation is now clearly designed to do just that. Win or lose, the Mets will have the best possible options on the field for them, and that’s all anyone can ask them to do.
I’ve said it here many times - winning the division is paramount. Playing in the wild card series - even if it were to be at Citi Field - is not what the team should be ok with regardless of the opponent. Winning the division and getting the first-round bye is the first prize they should be shooting for, and the design of the rotation clearly suggests they have that target in their scope.
Down on the Farm 🌾
Dominic Smith (1B, Triple-A): 1-for-5, HR, 2 RBI
Francisco Álvarez (C, No. 1 Prospect, Triple-A): 1-for-5, RBI
Yolmer Sánchez (INF, Triple-A): 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
Around the League 🚩
The Braves hung on to defeat the Phillies for the second night in a row with a 4-3 win, although Ozzie Albies is headed back to the IL with a broken finger
Amed Rosario recorded eight hits and six RBI in the Guardians doubleheader sweep of the Twins, helping them extend their lead in the American League Central to 4.5 games over the White Sox and seven over Minnesota
The Cardinals held the Reds to one run in their doubleheader sweep at Busch Stadium - they now have an eight game lead over the Brewers in the National League Central with 15 games to go
Speaking of the Brewers, they won their second game in a row over the Yankees in Milwaukee by a score of 4-1, trimming New York’s lead in the American League East down to 4.5 games while Milwaukee still trails the Padres by 1.5 games for the last wild card spot in the National League
The Dodgers are the first team to 100 wins in Major League Baseball in 2022 - they did it with a convincing 7-2 win over the Giants in San Francisco