The National League East race is tighter than a triple-knotted shoelace. The Phillies, Braves, and Mets are all in contention, with the first two currently tied for the division lead. The Mets are just half a game back and with less than 50 games remaining on each team’s schedule, every game matters. Every loss has immense repercussions. Every series is a chance to either take the division lead or blow your chances altogether. That being said, the Mets are about to have a really, really rough stretch.
Last night, the Mets kicked off a three-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers, ultimately falling 6-5. The Dodgers are obviously a very tough team to beat, but thankfully, it’s just three games against the Dodgers before the Mets get to face someone a little more manageable. WRONG! This series at home against the Dodgers is followed up with a three-game set in San Francisco — the team with the best record in baseball. Okay, well after that, it gets easier, right? WRONG PART 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO! (Ed. note: Did you... did you just make a Breakin’ 2 reference?! Nice — Rich O.)
After that, the Mets head down to Chavez Ravine for a 4-game series with the Dodgers once again. C’mon: It can’t get any worse right?! WRONG ONE LAST TIME! After that, the Mets head back home only to face the Giants once again.
That’s a 13-game stretch against the two teams with the best records in baseball that the Mets are only one game into. Meanwhile, the Braves’ next four series are against the Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins, Baltimore Orioles, and New York Yankees. Yeah, the Yankees are alright, and seem to be stringing together a pretty good stretch of baseball as of late — but even still, that’ll be just a two-game series with Atlanta. The rest of those series are against teams that have given up on the 2021 season. The Phillies’ next four series are much tougher: Cincinnati, Arizona, San Diego, and Tampa Bay, but that’s still not nearly as bad as what the Mets are about to endure. In fact, the Braves and Phillies have just three series against either the Dodgers or Giants remaining combined. Atlanta has all three of those. As the Phillies fight for their first division crown since 2011, they will not have to compete against either of the two best teams in baseball down the final stretch of the season. That is a scheduling gift straight from the heavens if you’re a Phillies fan.
There is a bright side for the Mets though. If the Metsies can survive the gauntlet they’re about to endure without falling too far behind the Braves and Phillies, they do get four straight series against the Nats and Marlins, a great opportunity to make up any ground they might lose over the next 12 days. However, despite that stretch, the Phillies still have far and away the best remaining schedule of any team in the NL East. The five worst teams in MLB in terms of win percentage are the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Rangers, Pirates, and Marlins. Of the 46 games left on the Phillies’ schedule, 20 are against one of those five teams, including 10 of the team’s last 13 games of the regular season.
We knew the Mets had taken a dive since the All-Star break. Despite having led the division for most of the season, the Mets have not looked like playoff contenders in recent weeks. Their trade deadline acquisition of Javy Baez was lackluster to say the least and definitely wasn’t enough to keep up with the impactful moves that Philadelphia (Kyle Gibson, Ian Kennedy) and Atlanta (Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, Richard Rodriguez, Jorge Soler) made. Despite the Mets making fewer trades and trading for less impactful players than either of their divisional counterparts, the Mets still managed to give away more than Philadelphia or Atlanta when they sent their number 5 prospect, Pete Crow-Armstrong, to the Cubs.
This hasn’t been a good season for the Mets, and based on their upcoming schedule, maybe it’s a good thing they decided not to go all-in at the trade deadline. If they had, it’s likely they would’ve sent several of their top prospects away just to have their postseason chances blown to bits by this devastating stretch of games. Perhaps the Phillies and Braves will struggle over the next half month just as much, but don’t hold your breath on that.