The New York Mets have already clinched their first postseason berth since 2016, but they want to avoid the NL Wild Card Series at all costs.
Unfortunately for them, they aren’t doing themselves many favors. After Saturday night’s 4-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves, the Mets now trail the defending World Series champions by a game in the National League East with four games to go.
The two teams wrap up the series on Sunday, but the winner also clinches the tiebreaker in the head-to-head season series. Meaning, if the Braves win on Sunday, their magic number to clinch the division goes down to one. If the Mets win, New York’s magic number would be three, while Atlanta’s would be four.
At this point, the Mets still control their own destiny, but if they lose tomorrow, they will have to win out, and the Braves will have to lose out for the Mets to win the division.
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The Mets led the division by 10.5 games back on June 1. From that date until Sept. 2, the Mets went an astounding 53-31… but the Braves went an almost unheard of 60-24. When the Mets went on a six-game winning streak from Sept. 15 to Sept. 20, so did the Braves, keeping it a one-game lead for New York.
The Mets had one of the easiest remaining schedules in the month of September, playing the likes of the Miami Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals. But in 18 games against those teams this month, they went just 10-8, and 6-6 at Citi Field. A team entering the month of September with a .634 winning percentage simply did not take advantage of such a gift.
Credit is much deserved to Atlanta – early signs showed a World Series hangover, as they started the season 23-27. But they are 76-32 in their last 108 games – that’s a .704 winning percentage, which at a 162-game pace equates to 114 wins.
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In that span (entering Saturday), their starters have a 3.35 ERA, the third-lowest mark in baseball. Their bullpen? Even better – 2.84, the second-best. They also have the most runs scored in the league since June 1, are tied for the most home runs, and have the second-highest OPS.
They also have not had a sacrifice bunt all year – take that, old school baseball.
Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer got the starts on Friday and Saturday night, but both were not their vintage selves. DeGrom allowed at least three runs for a fourth-straight start, which is not acceptable by his standards, before leaving Friday with a blister. Scherzer, who’s been money all season and a true stopper, allowed four runs in 5.2 innings on Saturday.
Simultaneously, the Mets bats have gone cold. They’ve scored just two runs in each game in what was their biggest series in years.
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At 98-60, The Mets have their most wins in a season since they won 97 in 2006. It’s hard to say the regular season wasn’t a success no matter what happens in the final homestretch.
But they would likely have to get past the star-studded San Diego Padres just to likely face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS if they settle for the Wild Card. Winning the division would force them to avoid the 109-win Dodgers until the NLCS.
What once was a dream scenario for Met fans they’ve been dying for is now suddenly bringing back all the bad memories.