By Connor Smith
Mets fans have been through enough turmoil and heartache to last a lifetime. Ever since Carlos Beltran took strike three to put a sudden halt to the Mets’ 2006 playoff run, the team had struggled being anything short of a laughing stock. After compiling two major September collapses and six losing seasons — the Mets are finally relevant. Having all but locked down a National League Division Series (NLDS) matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team must now prove to the world that they aren’t just a product of a weak division.
Young pitching and late inning heroics have been the calling card of this lively young Mets squad who lead the National League in RBIs, homeruns and slugging percentage since the All-Star break.
The Mets owe their recent success to a handful of trade-deadline acquisitions that bolstered the Mets’ lineup with the likes of Yoenis Cespedes, Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. These Major League hitters helped take the pressure off Curtis Granderson who kept the team afloat until July. The Mets have since seen the return of injured captain, David Wright, and young hitting catcher, Travis d’Arnaud.
The new Mets lineup has also allowed homegrown talent such as Michael Conforto, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores to contribute massively throughout August and September. The Mets now field one of the most potent offenses in baseball which should do well to support their young aces in a playoff format.
Although the Mets have looked fantastic since all their pieces came together in late July, many experts write their success off as having an easy schedule. The Mets haven’t won a series against a playoff team with their new lineup, but they’ve only faced two in that span — the Yankees and the Pirates. The Mets were gifted with an easy schedule, but many sports fans agree that the regular season means nothing when a team gains momentum heading into October.
The Mets do have a winning record versus the only playoff team that matters, the Dodgers. If the Mets can maintain a better record than (or tie) the Dodgers, they will receive homefield advantage in the NLDS. This is massive when you consider the Dodgers home-road split massively favors home games. The Dodgers own a .667 winning percentage at home, but have an abysmal .461 winning percentage. on the road. The Mets have a similar home-favored trend, but still maintain a positive road record.
Winning home field advantage will give the team the confidence they need to make the NLDS an exciting series. The Mets do have All-Star pitchers Matt Harvey and Jacob DeGrom along with rookie studs Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. If Harvey can pitch through his innings cap that has dominated the discussion around the team, the team will have a four man rotation that could silence even the best lineups in baseball.
If the Mets and their young arms can go toe-to-toe with the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, this team would certainly be making a statement that they are ready to win the World Series.
The Mets may very well be benefactors of an easy schedule, but that’s what makes baseball so magical — once October starts, all bets are off.
Mets fans certainly have a reason to be excited this October. This team has shown shades of the 1969 and 1986 teams that against all odds won it all. With young pitching, great hitting and a flair for the heroics, the Mets have all the pieces to make a deeper run this postseason, than they have in a long time.
As the late Tug McGraw once said, “Ya Gotta Believe!”