The Mets were lauded with having a good trade deadline, going after players with decent upside while giving up minimal player assets. New York acquired Marcus Stroman and traded away Jason Vargas (addition by subtraction), all while keeping their core intact.
The biggest ‘move’ for the Mets however, was holding onto Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, and Edwin Diaz, all of whom were rumored to be on the trading block at some point this past July. By all accounts, this demonstrated that Mets’ brass figured this team could contend either in 2019 or in the very foreseeable future.
The trade deadline narrative was perfectly timed, as New York was in the midst of walloping bad teams, coming off a sweep of the Pirates and in the middle of sweeping a series with the White Sox. Upon completion of that Chicago sweep on August 1st and going into another win August 2nd, New York’s playoff odds shot-up a remarkable 38.4 percent, increasing from 18.5 percent to 56.9 percent (their highest likelihood to make the playoffs all season).
With a favorable schedule the first half of August, finishing the series against Chicago, then going out to Pittsburgh to again play the Pirates, then hosting Miami for four games, they Mets were well-positioned to string together some much-needed wins before getting into the divisional gauntlet hosting Washington and Atlanta in New York.
Well, the first part of August was, as expected, great for the Mets, who continued their torrid pace against bad teams. They started the month 9-1, including a dramatic Saturday night walkoff win against the Nats’ Fernando Rodney. After that Saturday night game, the Mets’ playoff odds hovered at 42 percent, and it’s basically been in decline since.
The Mets main issue all season is that they beat the teams they should beat, but they gain very little traction against good teams that are likely to make the playoffs. New York has struggled against every decent National League team, with exception to the Nationals, whom they have bested 10 times in 16 games.
The Mets are 5-11 against the Braves, 4-9 against the Phillies, 2-5 against both the Cubs and Cardinals, 1-5 against the Brewers,1-2 against the Diamondbacks, and 1-3 against the Dodgers. Even accounting for their decent-but-not-great record against Washington, the Mets are a combined 26-46, a .361 winning percentage, against every decent team in the National League. That’s the same winning percentage the Marlins have on the season. When playing against good teams, the Mets are effectively playing as well as the 2019 Marlins.
If the Mets played a little better against the Phillies and Braves, they’d be right in the thick of the wild card hunt instead of five games out of the playoff picture. As it stands, the Mets are very much on the outside-looking-in, having to jump over several teams they do not match up well against head-to-head.
No team that plays like the 2019 Marlins will ever make the playoffs. Despite the wild ride the Mets took all of us on earlier this month with their winning streak, the true-talent Mets reared their head against the better teams of the National League, and that team just isn’t good enough to compete for an NL pennant.
Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano