Postseason preview: Mets’ playoff drought over, but are they contenders?
(Editor’s note: We’ll analyze each team’s postseason chances after it clinches a playoff berth.)
With a spectacular second half of the season, thanks in large part to excellent trade acquisitions orchestrated by general manager Sandy Alderson, the Mets are headed to the postseason for the first time since 2006 after clinching the NL East with a win over the Reds on Saturday.
Armed with a revitalized offense and one of the most talented young pitching staffs in all of baseball, the Mets have the potential to be a sleeper for their first World Series title in 29 years.
What to expect from the Mets as they play October baseball for the first time in nine years…
Why they can win the World Series: The Mets, who had an anemic offense in the first half of the season, now have the hottest offense in the National League. Acquiring slugger Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline has had a huge impact on the team’s offense, as the Mets currently lead the NL in runs scored and home runs after the All-Star break.
It’s not just Cespedes that makes the Mets’ lineup dangerous. Daniel Murphy, Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda and captain David Wright have come up big in spurts this season, and they lead a Mets offense that also has the highest OPS in the NL in the second half of the season.
That’s only half of the equation for the Mets.
They are also equipped with one of the best starting rotations in MLB with righties Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and lefty Steven Matz — in addition to veterans Bartolo Colon and Jonathon Niese. Rounding out their pitching staff is closer Jeurys Familia, who has been dominant since claiming the role.
Beyond the talent the Mets possess, they also have a key intangible: veteran leadership.
Wright has struggled through enough losing seasons in New York, and will do everything in his power to ensure he and his teammates make the most of their postseason run. Juan Uribe, who was among the Mets’ key midseason pickups this year, is also an important cog in the clubhouse, as he has won two World Series and seems to take his winning ways wherever he goes. However, his availability for the postseason is in question because of a chest injury.
Why they can’t win the World Series: The Mets have been red-hot in the second half, but their blaze could be extinguished quickly in the postseason for a simple reason: the competition.
While they have been competitive against the Dodgers this season (4-3), they have been obliterated by NL Central teams, going a combined 3-17 against the Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs (and haven’t won a game against the latter two all season).
As talented as the Mets’ pitching staff is, their young aces have no postseason experience and have raised concerns in the closing stages of the regular season.
Harvey’s inning limit debacle has been a major distraction for him and the club, and there’s plenty of uncertainly as to how his recent limited outings will affect his postseason performance. deGrom, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, has been dominant this season but has tapered off in the final month of the season, to which the Mets responded by tinkering with his usage as well.
With a wobbly bullpen ahead of Familia, the Mets will need strong performances from both their offense and starting pitchers to succeed in the postseason. And if their young starters aren’t up to the task, they won’t stand a chance of winning the World Series.
(Stats through Saturday, Sept. 26)