There’s no explaining these Mets, so let’s all just enjoy the ride they’re taking us on.
If you had tapped Terry Collins on the shoulder in Spring Training and told him how it would play out, he surely never would have guessed that his Mets would still be nicely position to return to the postseason on Labor Day.
To revisit: The Mets do not have David Wright, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom, Neil Walker, Lucas Duda or Juan Lagares.
They will not have Wright, Harvey or Walker again this season. As for the others, stay tuned. Matz (shoulder) is the only one of the group not on the Disabled List.
The Mets have used 45 players, including 10 starting pitchers. Collins has started eight different third basemen, eight left fielders.
Yoenis Cespedes missed two weeks in August with a leg injury and is playing despite it down the stretch.
Every team knows injuries are part of the game, part of the process of preparing. That’s why all those bottom-of-the-roster signings and acquisitions sometimes end up being so important.
To be gutted, though, is something else. The Mets were built around those young starting pitchers. Nothing they could have done would have prepared them for losing the production they hoped to get from Harvey, Matz, deGrom and the others.
Well, there’s one thing. That would be to replace talented young pitching with more talented young pitching.
When the Mets most needed help, rookie starters Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman provided it. At a time when the Mets have won 11 of 15, those two have combined to go 5-1 with a 2.13 ERA.
And that’s why the Mets might just be the most amazing story in baseball. On this Labor Day, they’re a mere one game out in the race for the second NL Wild Card berth.
“We had different names on the backs of those young pitchers,” manager Terry Collins said. “Those young guys we had last year came up and really, really pitched well that last month. We’ve got a couple new ones, but they’re pitching very, very well for us.”
- That patchwork rotation has been baseball’s best the last 15 games, with an 8-4 record and 2.99 ERA.
- Noah Syndergaard has emerged from health injuries of his own to throw three of the best start of his career (2-1, 1.23) when his team needed him most.
- Offensively, the Mets have averaged 5.2 runs per game during this stretch.
- Cespedes and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera have 11 home runs in 15 games.
- Jay Bruce is 8 for 19 with 2 home runs, 4 RBIs in his last five games.
- Mets have homered 18 times the last 10 games and have hit at least one in 18 of 21 games.
- At various times, Jose Reyes, Curtis Granderson have made important contributions.
Regardless of how it plays out, Collins has to be enormously proud of his players for continuing to fight through the adversity.
Along the way, he has done himself proud for holding things together. Sometimes this stuff just can’t be explained. Pulled this way and that, disappointed again and again by injuries, they’ve somehow survived.
The Mets play 22 of their final 25 games against teams with losing record and have the easiest remaining schedule (.450 winning percentage) in the majors.
But that stuff isn’t always important in September. (The Cardinals have 16 of 27 games left against the Cubs, Pirates and Giants.)
It’s not who you are playing as much as how you are playing, how healthy you are and how fresh you are.
If the Mets somehow get past the Cardinals to put themselves in the NL Wild Card Game, they will have done the kind of thing players, coaches and managers remember forever.