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Mets set sail in their postseason run tonight, and the need to solve the Yu Darvish puzzle
The Mets lost 4 out of 6 games to the Padres during the regular season with Yu Darvish serving as their primary obstacle
What’s Up with the Mets? 🚩
The Mets will play their first postseason game in six years later tonight when they host the Padres in Game One of their three-game wild card series (tickets)
1986 World Series champion Bobby Ojeda will throw out the first pitch before game one on Friday
The Mets must finalize their 26-man Wild Card roster by noon today, and GM Billy Eppler hinted at the possibility of Francisco Álvarez making the the roster for the first round of the playoffs
Buck Showalter has not announced the club’s plans for the rotation beyond tonight - should they win, they could opt to go with Chris Bassitt in game two and hold Jacob deGrom back for Sunday or a possible game one start in the Division Series against the Dodgers on Tuesday
MLB announced the umpiring crews for the wild card round; Adrian Johnson will be behind the plate for game one of the Mets and Padres series
New York will indeed continue with their season-long tradition of wearing black jerseys in Friday night home games - the Mets went 8-5 during the regular season when wearing the black jerseys
The Mets are 4-4 in the eight postseason games played in Citi Field history, having lost their last three (game 4 and 5 of the World Series to the Royals in 2015 and the Wild Card game to the Giants in 2016)
Injury Updates 🏥
Starling Marte (fractured finger) attempted baseball activities again on Thursday and was able to partcipate to an extent, although gripping the bat remains an issue, according to Mets GM Billy Eppler. His status remains unclear for the Wild Card Series
Match-up: Mets (0-0) vs Padres (0-0)
Where: Citi Field — Flushing, New York
Starters: RHP Max Scherzer (11-5, 2.29 ERA) vs. RHP Yu Darvish (16-8, 3.10 ERA)
When: 8 PM EDT
Where to Watch: ESPN
Who’s Hot 🔥
Jeff McNeil slashed .356/.404/.494 after the All-Star Game en route to winning his first batting title
Francisco Lindor is hitting .293/.355/.478 with 15 home runs and 55 RBI over his last 92 games
Pete Alonso has a .927 OPS with nine home runs and 26 RBI in 30 games since September 1
Joely Rodriguez has a 2.74 ERA in his last 21 appearances dating back to August 1
After transitioning to the bullpen on September 17, David Peterson allowed just two earned runs over 6.2 IP with two walks and eight strikeouts, a span of five relief appearances
It’s go time for the Mets… 📝
As much as the disappointment over failing to seal the deal in the National League East still hurts, beginning tonight the Mets simply have to put it behind them.
In the other dugout in this best of three wild card series are the San Diego Padres who took four of six from New York in the regular season and come in as a plenty dangerous enough foe.
On paper, the Mets are vastly superior to the Padres, but in a short series their talent advantage is vulnerable to being neutralized, particularly by Yu Darvish, who completely dominated the Mets twice this season and will take the ball in game one.
For context, Darvish allowed just one run on six hits 15 a walk and 15 strikeouts over 14 innings to the Mets in 2022. He’s 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA in eight career starts against the Mets.
Having said that, that was before - these are the playoffs and it’s a whole new ballgame under completely different conditions with completely different consequences.
Save for the inopportune meltdown in Atlanta last weekend, this Mets team has answered the bell every time they’ve been faced with a sliver of adversity in 2022. Whenever they’ve been knocked down they’ve fought their way off the mat and come up swinging. They did just that against the Nationals this week to end the regular season, and that is exactly what they’ll need to do this weekend as they begin their long climb to the top of the postseason mountain.
After a disappointing series with the Braves, Brandon Nimmo went 6-for-8 with two homers and 14 total bases in two games against Washington to conclude his season. The Mets will need to see a continuation of that from their table setter at the top of the lineup and carry that productivity over into the most meaningful games of his career.
Behind him in the order, Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso combined to drive in 238 runs for the Mets this season. But that same duo delivered exactly zero RBI against the Braves last weekend, something that simply cannot happen again here for the Mets to be successful.
After all, the Mets offense goes where Lindor and Alonso take it.
Jeff McNeil has been swinging a hot bat for months now, but especially with Starling Marte likely to miss the opening playoff series, for the Mets to win this series they’ll need significant contributions from somebody in the lower half of their order.
Can Eduardo Escobar carry his dominant September into meaningful October games? Can Daniel Vogelbach deliver big run scoring hits? How about fan favorite Mark Canha? And then there’s young rookie Francisco Alvarez just a handful of AB’s into his big league career. Can the kid come up with some huge moments and introduce himself on the game’s biggest and brightest stages?
Also, will the Mets left-handed threats be neutralized by the Padres and their left-handed attack on the mound this weekend?
And then there’s the pitching side of this. Opposing Darvish in game one will be Max Scherzer, pitching in exactly the type of big game he was signed to pitch. And after struggling through a disappointing outing six days ago, one has to believe the future hall of famer will come out like a man possessed tonight.
New York’s bullpen has been much better of late, specifically on the left side with both Joely Rodriguez and David Peterson emerging as reliable options for Buck Showalter. but it is certainly plausible that this series comes down to the Mets ability to bridge the gap between the starters and closer Edwin Díaz.
In the end, the Mets are under significantly more pressure than the Friars here given their regular season record, getting outrun by the Braves and therefore suddenly being put on the longer and more treacherous playoff path, whereas San Diego is arguably playing with house money against a team that won 12 more games than them during the regular season.
It’s up to the Mets to rise to the occasion and not let the pressure consume them. They’ll have the home crowd and the unique electricity New York comes with serving as wind for their sails, plus one of the most battle tested pitchers in the game leading the way tonight. All we can do in the meantime is trust that the better team will ultimately prevail, and we can similarly analyze a second postseason series next week.
PSA: Daniel Vogelbach raising money to help hurricane victims in Fort Myers, FL 📢
Mets DH Daniel Vogelbach is helping to raise money to help hurricane victims in need due to the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in his hometown of Fort Myers, Florida.
If you are interested in helping, visit vogelbachcares.org.
The October Chase 🏆
The Rays and Guardians kick-off the 2022 postseason at noon today with Shane McClanahan opposing Shane Bieber at 12 PM ET
The Phillies will participate in their first playoff game in ten years and will have former Mets RHP Zack Wheeler on the mound against Cardinals LHP José Quintana at Busch Stadium at 2 PM ET
In what on paper promises to be arguably the most interesting Wild Card matchup, Toronto and Seattle square off north of the border with RHPs Luis Castillo and Alek Manoah on the bump at 4 PM ET