We’re in for a riveting couple of months in the National League, where the majority of franchises at least have a glimmer of a chance at earning a wild-card berth. Four teams are within 2 1/2 games of the currently Max Scherzer-less Nationals for the top spot, while another four are 2 1/2 or fewer behind the Phillies for the league’s fifth and final playoff position. And we can’t even fully rule out the Giants, Reds, Padres or Rockies – teams that range from four to 7 1/2 behind the Phillies. The odds are strongly against anyone from the San Francisco-Cincinnati-San Diego-Colorado quartet making a miracle run, but nobody expected the long-slumbering Mets to suddenly rip off 13 wins in 14 games to put themselves in the thick of the race.
Despite a season loaded with turmoil, the Mets’ out-of-nowhere stretch of brilliance has placed them just a game back of the Phillies. According to FanGraphs, New York now has the second-highest odds of the NL’s wild-card contenders, trailing only the Nationals. The Phillies, Cardinals, Brewers, Diamondbacks and Reds check in next, though FanGraphs ranks their chances significantly lower than those of the Nats and Mets. The only club from that group that’s not at least .500 is Cincinnati. The Reds are a subpar 54-58, but they’ve won seven of 10 and did just add a pair of notable pitchers in Trevor Bauer and Kevin Gausman (the Bauer acquisition came at the expense of outfielder Yasiel Puig, though). Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks lost the best pitcher from an already thin staff, Zack Greinke, whom they traded to the Astros at last week’s deadline. Arizona brought in a respectable back-end starter in Mike Leake, but he’s no Greinke.
Arguably no current wild-card contender did more to improve at the deadline than the Mets, who reeled in Marcus Stroman to complement ace Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler near the top of their rotation. The majority of the other teams mentioned above also made deadline additions, but Bauer aside, Stroman may be the highest-upside pickup on paper.
MLBTR’s Jeff Todd asked Tuesday if the Mets would end up in the postseason, though the majority of voters said no. But if not them, then which two clubs will make it from the NL’s crowded field (one that could also include the division-leading Braves and Cubs)?
(Poll link for app users)