As the regular season nears its conclusion, the playoff picture is mostly in focus. Of the 12 teams currently in playoff position, 10 have a cushion of at least 4 and a half games. The Padres and Phillies are working to keep the Brewers at bay for the last two Wild Card places in the National League, but the rest of the teams currently in the playoff position have put themselves in a great position to reach the postseason barring a serious collapse. There is an external take where the White Sox track down the Guardians in the AL Central or the Orioles return to the AL Wild Card race, but it would take a major turn in events in the next couple of weeks.
There is a similar lack of intrigue in most division contests. The Astros and the Dodgers have already conquered their respective divisions. Yankees, Guardians, and Cardinals all have over six games lead in theirs. The only division race that promises a lot of intrigue along the way: the battle for NL East.
Both the Mets and the Braves are already guaranteed for the postseason. Each of them is likely to exceed 100 wins. Yet one of those teams will arrive just before the division title, leaving it as the No. 4 in the National League. That means a three-game streak against the No. 5 in a first-round Wild Card set in the playoff format introduced in this spring’s collective agreement. Obviously, both teams would much prefer to secure the division title (and almost certainly the No. 2 seeded in the NL and a farewell to the first round). What is the favorite for the division crown? Let’s take a look at the road remaining for each and their current health outlook.
Mets (record 95-56, differential +147 run)
Remaining time: in Oakland (three games), vs. Miami (two games), Atlanta (three games), vs. Washington (three games)
The Mets have 11 games remaining. Eight of them are against teams 28 games or more under .500. The other three: a crucial series next weekend in Atlanta. New York welcome back Max Scherzer from a short spell of injuries on Monday. He came out with six perfect innings against the Brewers, knocking out nine, before being relieved due to a limitation in pitch count. The rotation of the Mets is at his maximum strength at the right moment, prompting the players to do so Tylor Megil And David Peterson in the bullpen.
The biggest current injury for the Mets is on the side of the position player. right outside Starling Mars he has yet to return after suffering a nondisplaced fracture in his right middle finger two weeks ago. Anthony DiComo of MLB.com tweeted this afternoon the All-Star winger hopes to be back in time for next weekend’s series with the Braves. Central defender Brandon Nimmo, meanwhile, left today’s game with left quadriceps pain. Mike Puma of the New York Post relay which is likely tomorrow will go for imaging, but Nimmo downplayed the severity of the problem after the game.
brave (record 93-56, differential +171 run)
Remaining time: in Philadelphia (four games), in Washington (three games), vs. Mets (three games), in Miami (three games)
The reigning champions dug their holes at the start with a mediocre first two months, but they have been incredible since the calendar was turned around in June. They are a staggering 70-28 over the past three and a half months, almost canceling out a disadvantage that was once as high as 10 and a half games in the process. They have also shot with the Mets in the losing column but have two less wins, leaving them a little more work to do to move forward in the standings.
Tomorrow the Braves kick off a four-game set with the Phillies. This is a much tougher series than any other the Mets will play (aside from the Braves themselves), but Atlanta just wiped out Philly last weekend.
Like the Mets, Atlanta has no starting pitcher on the injury list. novice star Spencer Strider he’s battling some oblique pain and today’s scheduled start has been slightly delayed, but there’s no indication that an IL stint is currently under consideration. As with New York, Atlanta is at a disadvantage in a leading position due to a fractured finger. The brave have lost Ozzie Albies to a fracture of the right little finger over the weekend. There is a chance he will return in the postseason, but he is not expected to return before the end of the regular season. newbie Vaughn Grissom has been filling up well in recent weeks as Albies was rehabilitating a broken foot; he will be asked to do the same for the stretch run.
The last three matches between Mets and Braves obviously loom as the biggest remaining on the schedule for both clubs. Not only are they the most directly impacting in the standings, but they also have implications for the tiebreaker. The new CBA eliminated the traditional Game 163 in favor of a playoff system. If two teams finish the season with the same record, the team with the best head-to-head score gets the nod in the standings. The Mets lead the 9-7 series of the season this year, which means Atlanta would need to wipe out the last fight to secure the tiebreaker.
How do MLBTR readers expect things to turn out? Which team will celebrate an NL East crown in two weeks?
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