Sunday, July 22, 2012

How The Mets Can Still Make The Playoffs

After 12 excruciating innings, the Mets finally succumbed to the Los Angeles Dodgers today by the score of 8-3.  The Mets' 10th loss in 12 games pushed them under .500 for the first time this season, as they joined the 1971 and 1991 squads as the only teams in franchise history to go below the .500 mark for the first time after the All-Star Break.

New York now stands a season-high 8½ games behind the first place Nationals and five games behind the Braves for the second wild card spot.  Although it will be a tough task for the Mets to turn their season around, it is not impossible.  Let's look at the rest of their schedule to determine what has to happen for the Mets to make the playoffs.

After Sunday's loss, the Mets still have 67 games left to play.  Nine of those games are against the NL East-leading Nats.  The Mets also play nine games against the Braves and four games versus the Pirates, the two teams who currently hold the wild card spots.  That's almost one-third (22 out of 67) of their remaining games against the three teams that could determine the Mets' plans for October.

In addition, the Cardinals and Dodgers are also ahead of the Mets in the wild card standings.  At 52-44, the Dodgers are 4½ games ahead of the Mets and the Cardinals (50-45) are three games in front of New York.  The Mets have completed their season series against the Dodgers, but they still have three games left against the Cardinals in September.

Furthermore, the Mets still have to play 35 games against teams that currently have losing records.  That's more than half of their remaining schedule.

Sure, it might be optimistic of me to believe that the Mets are going to turn things around and make an unexpected run to the playoffs.  But it's not like they have to pass seven teams to move into one of the wild card spots.  And they only have two teams ahead of them in the division standings, with a combined 18 games remaining against them.

Stranger things have happened.  Just ask the 2011 Cardinals and Rays.  Or better yet, just ask the 1973 Mets, who were in last place with a 54-68 record in late August before they stormed back to win the NL East.

The forecast may look gloomy at Citi Field for the final 2½ months of the season.  But it's not time to jump off the Shea Bridge just yet.  The Mets can still make the playoffs in 2012, and they can do it on their own, without hoping for other teams to go into tailspins.  They just have to get out of their own tailspin first, and they'll have to get out of it soon.

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