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Wild Card Predictions from the Just Mets Staff
The Mets open their best-of-three Wild Card Series with the Padres on Friday night at Citi Field
The Mets are set to begin their quest for a third world championship in franchise history when they begin their best-of-three wild card series with the Padres on Friday night at Citi Field.
With the new playoff format and being the fourth seed, the Mets will need to win 13 postseason games in order to be crowned World Champions.
But first, here are the predictions from the Just Mets staff on how this series will go against the Padres this weekend…
Prediction: Mets in two
The Mets are unquestionably the superior team on paper. They were among the best and most consistent teams in baseball the entire season, with only the Dodgers truly demonstrating a higher level of consistency than them.
Losing the division hurts and a lot needs to go right for the Mets starting right now, but they’re starting this journey at home in front of the home crowd so there’s no reason to expect the Mets to falter in this series.
I worry about their struggles against the left side and I fully expect Bob Melvin to exploit that weakness when possible with the easiest chip to play being pretty much using any left-handed reliever to knock Daniel Vogelbach off the chess board in any inning. The Padres also have a strong bullpen and front three in their rotation with Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove leading the way which will be tough to beat.
But in the end, if the Mets are doing their thing and working deep counts and using their contact-centric approach at the plate the way they have for the bulk of the season, they’re going to score enough runs and take care of business in this series, and do so quickly if they continue to fire on all cylinders as they did this past week against Washington, which could afford them an opportunity to reset their rotation back to the dream scenario against the Dodgers next week.
Prediction: Mets in three
On paper, I think the Mets are clearly the better team here. Their rotation is better, their bullpen is better, and even their offense is better. That being said, we are only one week removed from this team wilting in the bright lights against Atlanta.
While this team does has several players and coaches with postseason experience, there are a lot who are diving into this head first. This will be a completely new experience for guys like Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Edwin Díaz and especially a guy like Francisco Álvarez who had never even appeared in a major league game this time one week ago. Was last weekend’s experience in Atlanta enough to get this team prepared for prime time? Have they have enough time to absorb and learn from that?
I certainly think it will at least help get them ready for the stage and the environment, and Alonso even said as much after last weekend’s sweep calling it a good learning experience. And honestly, I think we’re going to have a pretty good indication early on tonight if the Mets have taken something away from last weekend’s experience, or if they’re still looking a little tight.
That being said, even with a large part of their team entering this foray for the first time and my ever-persistent “Mets trauma,” I still think this team is simply too good to go down this early. While the Padres have quite a bit of talent themselves – their rotation is not remotely shabby themselves and Juan Soto is always capable of wrecking a three-game series – the Mets are just better. No matter what order they pitch them in Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Chris Bassitt is a hell of a gauntlet for any opposing offense to go up against, and I just can’t see that trio getting beat for a second consecutive turn with everything on the line.
This team is going to get it done, even if the series is closer than the records might indicate.
Prediction: Mets in two
There’s a popular expression in sports betting warning about picking with your heart instead of your brain. Too often people can’t get past their loyalty to their team and ignore all the logical and well established reasons why they’re likely to lose.
I’d like to think of my above pick here as the opposite of that theory.
As a diehard Mets fan my heart is still hurting badly from the demoralizing weekend we just suffered through in Atlanta. Made worse as someone who works with family that are passionate Braves fans. Internally I’m conflicted between being as down on the Amazins as I’ve been in a long time and LFGM.
Now, with the way this past weekend went down, and after suffering through so much Mets related PTSD from the Wilpon era, what my heart is inclined to pick is Padres in two.
One if I could.
But my brain is telling me otherwise because any way you slice it, the Mets are the superior team here. The Padres are clearly dangerous, but outside of Manny Machado it’s hard to hand pick any of their offensive players that you could say have had a good year. Juan Soto, Josh Bell, and Brandon Drury have all struggled since coming over at the deadline. Machado and Jake Cronenworth are the only two Friars who have driven in over 60 runs.
For reference—seven Mets have eclipsed that total.
San Diego’s best chance here hangs on their starting pitching, particularly Yu Darvish, who has shut the Mets down twice this season. Both Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove are upper echelon starters as well, but New York beat both of them this year. The Padres bullpen is strong leading up to closer Josh Hader—who has struggled to a 7.31 ERA in 19 games with San Diego.
In the end, you have to trust that the Mets will get big games from their big pitchers—beginning with Max Scherzer on Friday night—and offensively their stars will deliver the way they couldn’t in Atlanta. And with any luck, we’re doing this again in reference to the Dodgers early next week.