The Mets know not to be comfortable as they try to get to the finish line in 2015
The Mets have started their nine-game homestand unevenly with a 2-3 mark, thanks to losing a series to the Marlins and a loss to the Yankees on Saturday.
In the process, the club has lost 2 1/2 games in the standings to the Nationals, who gained a game on the Mets on Saturday with a win over the Marlins to cut their deficit to seven games with 15 to go.
Given the schedule, the lead is still substantial, but the Mets and David Wright in particular isn’t taking anything for granted.
After all, history – which Wright has been an unfortunate member of – suggests it’s up to the Mets to seal their fate.
“There is no comfort,” Wright explained after Saturday’s loss. “Its nice we have the lead, but we need to win baseball games. We have a luxury of a little bit of a lead, but nothing is safe. So we have to bare down and start winning some series.”
In the five games on this homestand, the Mets have hit just .197/.272/.357 with 15 walks and 12 runs scored, many of which have come thanks to five home runs in that span.
The last two days in particular, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda have been able to consistently get ahead in the count and shutdown the top of the Mets order in particular.
The Mets are 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position against the Yankees in the first two games of this series, 4-for-33 with runners in scoring position on the homestand overall.
They have not had a hit with runners in scoring position since Tuesday.
Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes have combined to go 1-for-15 with a walk and five strikeouts in the first two games of this series, although Granderson reached base twice on Saturday.
But Terry Collins will move Cespedes down in the lineup in an effort to generate more base runners from the top of the order during Sunday’s series finale against the Yankees in which they’ll face struggling left-hander CC Sabathia.
“We’re going to take [Cespedes] out of the two-hole tomorrow and put him some place else, and see if we can get some guys on ahead of him,” Collins said. “Maybe that will help.”
Following Sunday’s game against the Yankees, the next ten games will be against the Braves, Reds and Phillies, followed by the final series of the season against the Nationals.
But in the final 13 games of the year, the Mets will be reshuffling the rotation again, as Jacob deGrom will not pitch against the Braves as originally scheduled on Tuesday, and it remains unclear when Matt Harvey will pitch again after his start on Sunday against the Yankees.
“I don’t know if I necessarily need it, but I don’t think it can hurt,” said deGrom. “It’s what they chose to do, so that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Mets are faced with the challenge of getting their young core of players – specifically their starting pitchers, a lot of whom have now thrown more innings than they ever have in their career – through the most grueling month of the season.
As Collins said earlier this week, often times it seems like the finish line never comes for them.
In some cases over the course of history for the Mets, it indeed never came.
So the Mets are in a position once again where they need to be in teaching mode while shuffling their younger players to get them what they now feel is necessary rest. But at the same time, they have a responsibility to win series and continue to progress towards the division title.
Can they find a happy medium to get this team to the finish line? The math says yes, but as they know all too well, sometimes that math changes very fast.