The 2015 National League champions coasted on a sea of subpar second-place teams to home field advantage in the bullshit crapshoot that is the one-game wild card playoff (can’t wait!). More than half of their Opening Day bevy of shampoo-commercial starters have been sidelined with injury but between a couple of capable rookies, an ascendant ace (no, not Matt Harvey), the ageless Bartolo Colon, and the second-most home runs in the NL, the affable, laughable team from Queens is giving it another run this postseason.
The Mets are the team you probably still think of as the Yankees’ loser little brothers, despite their ahead-of-schedule World Series appearance in 2015. Granted, they lost in five games to the Kansas City Royals, but at least the Mets are back in the playoffs this year, unlike the ultimate champions.
That recent success—and the technically unrelated but still viscerally satisfying Yankees flop this year—seems to have done little to mitigate Mets fans’ sense of existential dread. They’re not going to get the sympathy vote what with the Cubs and Indians making postseason appearances this year, but since it’s been exactly 30 years since the Mets last won the World Series, you could argue it’s their turn again.
The Mets are also a team that’s on a roll. They finished the season with one of the best records in baseball over the final month and a half, going 26-13 since August 20 to pull their playoff chances, according to FanGraphs, up from just 6.7 percent to, well, 100 percent.
First, a quick and tragic list of who will be cheering on their teammates from the dugout in the coming days or weeks:
More troubling for fans who don’t care about comic-book branding, Jacob deGrom, who had an inconsistent but still laudable season two years post winning Rookie of the Year, will be out until 2017 after having surgery in his right elbow recently.
Nice Long Island Boy™ Steven Matz will also miss the postseason after a 7-1 start to this season was derailed by bone spurs.
You’re probably not still pinning your hopes on the heavily heralded Zack Wheeler—who hasn’t pitched since ... oh my god, 2014!—but yeah, he’s still recovering from Tommy John surgery.
And after trading Jon Niese last year, the Mets got him back at the trade deadline—only to have him go down with season-ending knee surgery.
Missing from the lineup: captain David Wright, capable infielder Neil Walker, and lovable crybaby Wilmer Flores.
Okay, so, who’s left? Glad you asked.
Noah Syndergaard—not to be confused with all the other Rapunzels in the Mets’ rotation—pitched in the team’s only World Series win last year (where he did this). Since then, he’s been even better. His 2.60 ERA is good for third overall in baseball this season, which he posted by throwing really, super-humanly hard. At an average of 98 mph, his fastball is a good two miles per hour faster than the next qualified starter. He threw 1047 pitches faster than 98 mph—which is more than the entire staff of every other team except the Yankees.
Then there’s Bartolo Colon, whose career has outlasted Turner Field and whose adorable everyman image has outlasted not only having a second family, but failing to support them! The 43-year-old appeared in his fourth All-Star Game this year, hit his first-ever dinger, and has stayed deceptively nimble in the field.
Rounding out the rotation are two new faces that deserve a serious double-take. Thirteenth- and 34th-round draft picks, respectively, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo have both maintained ERAs under 3.00 after each getting called up for the first time this season. Should the Mets make it past the Giants, they’ll likely make it from the minors to postseason starters in a matter of months.
And while their Wild Card opponents are casting about for a closer who won’t actively blow leads every chance he gets, the Mets can feel safe turning the ball over to Jeurys Familia, whose 51 saves led all of baseball.
But what about all those dingers? Righteous bat flipper Yoenis Cespedes smashed 31 home runs with a .530 slugging percentage this year. Moon-truther Curtis Granderson may be batting .237, but he still managed 30 dingers and even though he basically stopped hitting in the first month after the Mets traded for him, giant slice of Wonder Bread Jay Bruce’s four longballs in the final week of the season are a good sign going into the playoffs.
Steven Matz’s grandpa is actually seen gesticulating excitedly last year here, but it’s just too good.
They don’t have to. 😎
Always and forever.
I won’t be. In fact, I’ll be at the game Wednesday night rooting vociferously against the Mets. So I asked someone who will be, my New Yorker-for-life Grandma Terry, and here’s what she had to say: