It’s September and both of New York’s Major League Baseball teams are in good position to make the playoffs. The New York Mets sit a comfortable 8.5 games above the second place Washington Nationals in the East division, but if you’ve been a Mets fan in the 21st century, then this means absolutely nothing, since an 8.5 game lead for the National League squad is as fragile as a .5 game lead. There’s really not much assurance that it will stick, and for a brief history on the September woes that grip the Mets each year, see the below tweet.
Warning: graphic violence https://t.co/an35NeQM0D
— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) September 6, 2015
I don’t know what cosmic force out there causes the Mets to fall apart in spectacular fashion during the final month of play (as a contender), but it’s a real thing that cannot be exaggerated. Baseball is a sport full of bizarre curses and folklore, although here’s the thing: the Mets haven’t delivered in the past, but this could actually be the year that they don’t fall apart in September.
The Mets had a stable roster throughout the 2015 season with young offensive contributors like Wilmer Flores, Travis D’Arnaud, Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and veteran David Wright (when he’s healthy), however the July 31 trade deadline is when they lit the fuse. The biggest move they made for themselves was when General Manager Sandy Alderson traded for slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who has suddenly become the hottest hitter in the majors since putting on a Mets uniform. Sure, he is a free agent after this season, but New York only gave up two prospects, and this deal has been a gigantic win for Mets given the spectacular play of Cespedes. Let’s take a quick look at his yearly stats in his time between Detroit and New York. With the Tigers, he played 102 games, hit 18 home runs, collected 61 RBI and had a .293/.323/.829 line. Those numbers, while healthy, look incredibly tame compared to Cespedes’ surge with the Mets. In New York, he’s played just 41 games, hit 17 home runs, amassed 42 RBI and posted a monstrous .309/.356/1.048 line. In less than half the time, he’s put up better numbers than the first half of the 2015 season. Cespedes is on fire and there’s just no putting him out.
It’s the Mets pitching rotation that has dropped the ball in past Septembers, just ask Tom Glavine. This season, they’ve set themselves up with a winning and durable staff with a strong relief corps in Jeurys Familia and Tyler Clippard to close things out. However, let’s talk about the six guys responsible for keeping it together, as the Mets have put together a massively successful boy band of a rotation with their young starters, and yes, Bartolo Colon is definitely a member. Matt Harvey functions as the frontman of the boy band, the undisputed Timberlake of the group. He’s come back strong from Tommy John surgery and continues to be one of the best starters in the league. With a 12-7 record, 2.88 ERA, 164 Ks and 1.04 WHIP, Harvey has fulfilled the promise of his 2013 season; he knows how much this group relies on him and he’s not afraid to play diva. Of course, we can’t talk about Harvey and New York’s September chances without the surprise 180 inning limit that Harvey just surprised the organization with. It’s hard to blame the dude — he came back from successful Tommy John and doesn’t want to take his chances on a second trip, especially before his contract expires (he stands to make big money). With that being said, it’s not the innings that should be monitored, as just one inning can last three pitches or it can last 50 pitches. If anything, pitch counts should be instituted with Harvey. No matter what pitch is thrown, stress is put on the arm. Technically, the Mets have just over eight innings left to squeeze out of him before October, in which he’ll pitch if they make the playoffs, because of course he’s going to pitch if they make the playoffs.
Jacob deGrom may not be the leader of the group, but he is the most talented of the bunch, the secret MVP that holds the chemistry together. After a highly impressive rookie 2014 season, deGrom has gone on to show he’s the real deal this year. His 13 wins is the second highest of the squad, he’s tossed the most innings with 181 and he leads the rotation with 189 strikeouts through a roster-best .99 WHIP. Also, opponents are batting just .219 against him, which is the second-best mark on the rotation.
Noah Syndergaard, whose nickname is Thor, is definitely the wild and dangerous one in this tween sensation. In his rookie season, he’s posted a respectful 8-6 record, 137 Ks and a 1.10 WHIP. Steven Matz is the young cub, the innocent one. He’s only started three games in his rookie season but has shown a lot of promise to build on with his 22 strikeouts in just 24 innings and only five runs allowed. Jon Niese is the member that’s just happy to be there, as he’s gone between the bullpen and starting rotation in 2015 while the Mets go back and forth with a six-man rotation.
Bartolo Colon is the clown of the group. Every single time he is on camera, he does something meme-worthy. Whether it’s getting a base-hit, pulling a web-gem, or just simply craving bubblegum, Colon is endlessly fun to watch. Even more so, he’s having a really good season, especially when you consider he’s 42 years old. Colon has a roster-best 14 wins, a respectful 129 Ks and a strong 1.24 WHIP. Long live Bart.
The biggest test for the Mets came last week when they faced the Washington Nationals, a division rival and wild card hopeful. New York passed with flying colors, sweeping the Nats in three and outscoring them 21-15. The Mets only have to hold it together for 17 more games, and luckily for them, they are facing opponents in which they have gone a combined 47-22 in 2015. That’s the .500-plus winning percentage they need to cling onto, and while it always seems too soon to call it safe when it comes to this team in September, it really feels like they’re going to take the division. Someone pull Don Draper off his office couch, it’s time to meet the Mets.
Dylan Moses Griffin has been a cinephile for as long as he can remember. His favorite film is Taxi Driver, and he reads the works of Roger Ebert like it’s scripture. If you want, he will talk to you for 30 minutes about the chronologically weird/amazing Fast and Furious franchise.