The New York Mets defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-2 on Sunday to win their ninth game in 10 tries, a streak that has seen the Mets improbably work their way back into playoff contention.
The hot streak has drawn attention to a longer period in which the Mets have been playing better, as the team has won 15 of its last 20 games.
Mets Respond After Quiet Trade Deadline
That’s been enough to get New York back to within one game of .500 heading into a Monday doubleheader against the Miami Marlins. It also has them just three games back of the second wild card position in the National League with 51 games remaining in the season – a position that would have seemed all but impossible just a month ago.
The surge has taken place around the trade deadline, a period in which the Mets’ activities baffled many observers. While few expected a true fire sale, there were rumors that New York would look to move pieces like closer Edwin Diaz or starters Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard.
Instead, the team brought in Marcus Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays, and only then parted ways with Jason Vargas, who moved to the Phillies. The result was a somewhat improved rotation for the Mets, with no major selloff.
Realistically, the thought from the front office was likely that the bulk of the team could be kept together for a competitive run in 2020. Instead, the fact that the Mets expressed confidence in their current roster seems to have galvanized the clubhouse.
“It pumped us up, we are ready to make a run at this thing,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway told The New York Post. “I think when that happened we saw some energy in the clubhouse. Everybody was excited we didn’t get rid of anybody and we added.”
A few weeks of good baseball doesn’t mean that the Mets are suddenly one of the teams to beat in the National League, and their streak has come primarily against the Pirates and the White Sox – hardly the toughest competition in the majors. But the Mets are beating the teams that contenders are supposed to beat, and that has been enough to put them in position to play meaningful games down the stretch.
Bullpen, Cano Injury Still Issues for New York
Bookmakers are taking notice of New York’s play, though they aren’t quite ready to believe that the Mets are a serious threat. FanDuel Sportsbook has shortened the team’s World Series championship odds to 80/1, while New York is 35/1 to win the NL East, where they remain 10 games back of the Atlanta Braves.
If the Mets are going to make the postseason, there are a couple issues that will need to be dealt with. The back end of the New York bullpen has been unreliable at best, with closer Edwin Diaz compiling a 1-6 record with a 5.44 ERA, along with five blown saves this season. That has led to some talk that Diaz could lose his closer role as each game becomes more critical in August and September.
“I think we have to be open-minded,” Callaway told reporters about the bullpen situation. “Moving forward we are going to do whatever we can to win a game and I don’t think we can lock ourselves into one thing.”
Additionally, second baseman Robinson Cano is back on the injured list with a left hamstring strain he suffered during Sunday’s win. While Cano is hitting just 252 with 10 home runs on the year, he has been hot since the All-Star break. Cano also missed time earlier this season because of a quad injury to the same leg.