We’re used to writing about the Mets for other reasons around here, so please forgive me if I make any mistakes while trying to play this one straight, but the Mets offense absolutely went bonkers Monday night, and it increasingly looks like they are going to skate right into the playoffs.
No matter how Monday night’s game against the Phillies went, it would have been considered a success for the Mets. David Wright returned for his first game since early April, after being diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column. This is what he did in his first at-bat:
Wright’s return and monster blast to left field was apparently all the inspiration the Mets needed, as they proceeded to smash seven more home runs and rout the Phillies, 16-7. Their eight total homers set a franchise record, and combined with the Phillies’ three, they tied the National League record with 11. Everybody in the Mets starting lineup homered once, save for the pitcher and shortstop Ruben Tejada. Here are all of them:
The Mets’ rotation is one of the best in the majors, and their bullpen ain’t too shabby either. This season most of their struggles have been at the plate, with Curtis Granderson (and possibly the injured Lucas Duda) the only batter you could reasonably say put fear into opposing pitchers. But that has changed dramatically, beginning with the trade deadline.
It turns out that botching the trade that would have sent Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores to the Brewers for Carlos Gomez was a blessing in disguise. Gomez has been putrid since eventually being traded to the Astros, while after belting two home runs and a double tonight, Flores sports a .338/.377/.585 slash line in August, much better than his .265/.298/.418 for the season. And after missing out on Gomez the Mets traded a couple of minor leaguers for Yoenis Cespedes, who has proceeded to sock six home runs and six doubles as a Met, providing much better production in center/left field than they were previously getting from Michael Cuddyer and Juan Lagares.
Wright won’t play day games after night games, and will assuredly be benched for others to keep him healthy. There is also of course no guarantee that he especially, but also Flores and Cespedes, keep up their torrid August production. But it seems unlikely that all three will spontaneously regress, and the Mets still have that dominant starting pitching to fall back on.
On Aug. 1, the Mets were given a 48% chance of making the playoffs, while the division rival Washington Nationals were given a 68% chance. But the Mets have gone 15-6 in August while the Nats have gone just 8-14. Benefitting from playing in one of the weaker divisions in baseball, the Mets were given an 86% chance of making the playoffs before Monday night’s thrashing. Via Baseball Prospectus/MLB:
The Mets haven’t made the playoffs since the Carloses Beltran and Delgado were slugging home runs, and before then since the 2000 Subway Series against the Yankees. They’re the Mets, so an embarrassing collapse is of course always in the cards, but after tonight I wouldn’t bet against them.