Things couldn’t have gone much worse for the Mets down in Atlanta. Now, they’re beginning to look ahead to the next chance to prove themselves in the hunt for a World Series.
Buck Showalter’s men look as though they’re destined to begin their postseason earlier than many expected to just a couple of weeks ago as they’ll host the best-of-three National League Wild Card Series beginning Friday at Citi Field against either the San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies, or Milwaukee Brewers. It makes their path to a deep playoff run all the more difficult considering the Los Angeles Dodgers loom in the NLDS should they advance.
So comes the difficult balance of acknowledging what happened — the down September against a weaker schedule, the Atlanta sweep — the task at hand in three final regular season games against the Washington Nationals, or what lies ahead.
“We had a lot of opportunities that we haven’t taken advantage of. There will be another [opportunity to take advantage of] this season,” Showalter said. “Everybody will seek their level…There are some good times ahead, potentially.”
Those opportunities extend to the top of a Mets rotation that failed to live up to expectations down in Atlanta. Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Chris Bassitt — the top three starters of the team’s postseason rotation — were tagged for 11 runs in 14.1 innings of work against the Braves to put added pressure on a misfiring offense.
“I’m sitting here with Jake and Max and Chris trying to let them know what’s coming and what’s ahead. Trying to stop the unknown from happening,” Showalter said. “They’re already thinking about it. They’re already moving on. They’re going to get a chance to not have their season end that way.”
It wasn’t just the rotation that fell short in Atlanta. Key Mets bats were neutralized by Braves pitching whether it was Pete Alonso failing to drive in a run in three games or Francisco Lindor going 2-for-13.
“Of course, they’re pressing. It was a tough plane ride,” Showalter admitted. “I know how much they care, how much the fans care. You hate to disappoint people. It hurts. You want everything to go well. You want people to be comfortable. I’m very proud of what they’ve accomplished so far but it’s reality.
It was the final disappointment of a down September that saw the Mets flirt with .500 against one of the weakest remaining schedules in the majors. Now they’ll try to put that behind them and make some noise in the postseason with something to prove.
“We had a lot of opportunities that we haven’t taken advantage of. There will be another one this season,” Showalter said. “Everybody will seek their level… There are some good times ahead, potentially.”