Well that was exciting. Even with Brandon Pfaadt’s no good, very bad day, I think it’s fair to say that the series against the Cubs was the best pitched all season long. Of course, that was lead by Zac Gallen’s first career 9IP CGSO, and the bullpen being absolutely dominate. Both things that you love to see if you’re on the side of the Sedona Red, though less so if you Bleed Boring Blue. That series win keeps them in sole possession of the final wild card spot, and now they are only two games back of the second. Additionally, they are just one win against the Cubs away from securing the tiebreaker between the two teams.
The Mets, when you factor in all payroll costs such as luxury tax, had a payroll of essentially half a billion dollars. They were supposed to do big things. Instead, they’re acting as a living cautionary tale of why maybe the plan of “just spend money” isn’t the best strategy in baseball. They’re definitely showing why it isn’t a good idea to spend it all on people on the wrong side of 35. They are already mathematically eliminated from the NL East, and their tragic number to be eliminated from the wild card (by the Diamondbacks no less!) is down to 11. Just an ugly, ugly season, and wildly predictable if you’ve spent any time paying attention to the Mets in their history.
The Mets have announced a whopping one of their four needed for the series, so let’s take a look at the Diamondbacks’ schedule going forward and their chances of clinching that final Wild Card. Technically, they aren’t eliminated from the division championship yet, which, let’s be realistic here, is a win in and of itself this late in the season, given where they were so recently. However, with a tragic number of only 7, the odds of them catching the Dodgers are so far beyond slim to none. But hey. Who knows.
Their wild card hopes are still alive and well, but it’s tight. As I mentioned above, they do have sole possession of the third wild card spot, though it is by just half a game. They’ve been winning of late, but the Marlins won’t just roll over. While the Dbacks have gone 6-4, the Marlins have gone 8-2. The Giants were fading, but they’ve turned it around thanks to facing the Cardinals and have won three straight to get/stay at a game and a half back, tied with the Reds.
According to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs, though, their playoff odds are better than those standings might suggest. BR is the most bullish on them, giving them a 51% chance of making the postseason right now. That’s 30% better than the Giants and 33% better than the Reds. Fangraphs has the Diamondbacks 10% lower for the wild card, with that difference entirely going to the Giants, and then some, who see their odds increase 12% compared to baseball reference.
Those changes just go to show how close it is ultimately going to be, especially when you look at the projected final W/L totals. Fangraphs’ projections have the Diamondbacks, on average, winning 84 games to the Giants 83. Very close. But Baseball reference has it spread out as 84 to 82. That single win difference is the driving factor in an 12% increase in playoff odds.
Now what does that mean for this series? Well, basically, it means that the Diamondbacks need to show up for every single game. The Mets have struggled, to put it mildly, all season, and come in to the week effectively eliminated from the playoffs with three weeks still to go. This is the type of series that the Diamondbacks absolutely must win to keep their hopes moving forward. As we see above, single wins or losses can cause massive swings in their probability now, and they need to cash in against the weak opponents.
They didn’t do that last time around. Their first three games against the Mets saw them lose 8-5, 2-1, and 9-0. Looking back, it wasn’t a good series for the Diamondbacks. Zach Davies (Monday night’s starter) gave up four runs, Ryne Nelson (Tuesday night’s starter) gave up seven runs, and the only good start they got was from Tommy Henry, who... yeah. Not an option this time. It was also the series that Corbin Carroll had the shoulder scare, so all around a crappy set of games.
They have a chance to turn that around this time, especially with Gallen, who emphatically overcame his road issues against the Cubs in his last start, and Kelly both taking the ball in this series. Where it goes from there, though, I guess we’ll find out. We’ve got meaningful baseball in September. It’s going to be a wild one.
Game 1 — 9/11, 4:10 PM: Zach Davies vs. Jose Quintana
Game 2 — 9/12, 4:10 PM: Ryne Nelson vs. TBD
Game 3 — 9/13 4:10 PM: Zac Gallen vs. TBD
Game 4 — 9/14 1:10 PM: Merrill Kelly vs. TBD