New York Mets fans have new hope with expanded playoffs
By Staff Writer
The Major League Baseball playoffs have expanded and there’s new hope for New York Mets fans.
Going into the 2020 MLB regular season this past Thursday morning I’m sure many New York Mets fans couldn’t help but feel a little dejected.
I know I was.
What was to be one of our major strengths heading into the 2020 season, in our starting rotation, was already going to be two key pieces down thanks to the injuries of both Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard. Add to the fact that we really don’t have much quality starting pitching depth to back those guys up and play in a really competitive NL east division probably signaled early on that maybe 2020 wasn’t going to be our year to make it into the postseason.
But lo and behold, out of nowhere (as if this season couldn’t be stranger enough), Rob Manfred, the MLB Player’s Association and the owners decided to drop a little wrinkle on us in the 25th hour as they approved expanding the number of playoff teams in the National and American Leagues from 5-8 per league. What’s even crazier is this news was announced literally hours before the first game of the regular season!
Well, okay. I guess this changes things for the better then.
Let’s be honest, with three more additional slots added to the National League playoff bracket in 2020, the all of a sudden injury-riddled, somewhat long in the tooth Mets roster may have caught a huge break. Playing in a very competitive NL East where you can expect the Phillies, Braves, and Nationals to be contending for the NL East crown along with the Mets should cause a lot of these division rivals to cancel each other out as far as accumulating wins goes.
There is more of a chance in this division than any other of the first-place team to finish with no more than 33 or 34 wins while second, third, and fourth place may all hover around 29 to 31 wins. If this turns out to be the case, sneaking into the final few playoff spots with 30 or 31 wins as a third-place team is a scenario more than likely to play out in the National League this season.
With a lot of the weaknesses and questions the Mets have coming into 2020, they can easily find themselves in this type of situation.
Playing in a shortened regular season also works in the Mets’ favor.
Offensively, the Mets are also potent enough that they may just be able to outscore a lot of their opponents on any given night and mask many of the bad outings the back end of their pitching staff may have.
And with starting pitchers only required to make no more than 12 starts at most this season – relying on a shaky bullpen should be less of an issue considering starters won’t be throwing more than 85 innings all season. This should allow Luis Rojas to leave his more effective starters out there for an extra three to five more batters per start than he normally would.
On the days where a rotation pitcher has a shaky outing early, let’s say like maybe Rick Porcello or David Peterson for example, if the Mets have to yank one of these guys early they can rely more on a bullpen by committee to get the job done and keep the runs down going towards the ninth inning. There really isn’t the problem of preserving your bullpen for a 162 game season anymore. Fatigue issues basically go out the window and this should allow the Mets to steal even more victories.
The one obvious downside I can think of with an expanded postseason is it may lead to less trade deadline movement. More teams will be in the hunt to be buyers than sellers, thus causing a bit of a drought in player movement. Only teams with really deep farm systems will be able to make the really big acquisitions.
Should the Mets get hit with more injuries to key players as the season goes on this could be detrimental. However, if you think about, this type of scenario should affect most teams the same way as it does the Mets, so it really kind of evens out.
Overall, let’s just all cross our fingers and hope the Amazins can avoid outright catastrophic situations that may leave the ball club as a bottom seven team in the National League this season. If so they should have no issue claiming one of the top 8 playoff spots in what’s sure to be an interesting new kind of playoff format.
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But the way 2020 has been going so far, would it surprise you if they didn’t?