2) Mets post trade deadline postseason threat: Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves will never go away. It was unbelievable that the Mets took four games of the massive five-game series. A 6.5-game lead is huge, but can easily evaporate.
The Braves have been there and done that before. They were the team to overtake the Mets last season and win the division. While this Mets team is obviously way better than last year's, I believe this year's Braves team is even better than the one that just won the World Series.
They did lose Freddie Freeman, but the dropoff from Freeman to Matt Olson isn't very extreme. Olson is a Gold-Glove caliber first baseman with unbelievable power and the ability to hit for extra bases.
Austin RIley would probably be the NL MVP runner-up to Paul Goldschmidt if the season ended today. Dansby Swanson is enjoying a breakout year which saw him make the all-star team.
And yes, the Braves still have Ronald Acuna Jr. Acuna did not look right during this five-game series, but with more time left in the season, I still have to expect he becomes more comfortable with more time passing and the more comfortable he gets, the scarier he is.
The Braves have also been without Ozzie Albies, another impact bat who can change the outcome of any given game.
The Braves rank fourth in baseball in runs scored, just one run behind the Mets for third. They lead the National League in home runs and they lead all of baseball in total bases. That's with Acuna nowhere near his best and Albies missing substantial time.
They are loaded offensively, and arguably just as good on the other side of the ball. Max Fried, even though he hasn't looked his best against the Mets, is a bonafide ace. Spencer Strider, even though he hasn't looked good at all against the Mets either, has been electric against just about everyone else.
Kyle Wright has enjoyed a breakout campaign. Charlie Morton is one of the great postseason performers who has had a lot of success against the Mets in the past.
Their rotation is rock solid, and their bullpen is even better. Kenley Jansen is an experienced closer who's enjoyed success in his first season in Atlanta. He's also a guy the Mets never seem to hit off of.
The Braves added Raisel Iglesias to be Jansen's primary set-up man, in a trade the Mets probably should have made.
They also have guys like A.J. Minter, Tyler Matzek, and Collin McHugh who have all had solid years and all have postseason experience.
The Braves bullpen is as deep and as good as they come. The Mets have the edge at closer but their bridge to Diaz is not as structurally sound as the Braves bridge to Kenley.
In order to be the champs, the Mets will most likely have to beat the champs. They've done that so far, going 8-4 against their rival, but the postseason is a different beast.