It's a big deal whenever the New York Mets can beat the St. Louis Cardinals. Former foes of the NL East and rivals of the Mets, they're one of those organizations that rarely takes time off from competing.
This year's Cardinals are an outlier to the norm not by choice but by circumstance. We knew they were bad this season based on their record. Are they really this much worse than the Mets? Dropping three of four at home in the fashion they did seems to suggest so.
Fans can point to the NL wild card standings and feel a sense of belief in this team. The Mets aren't so far out. Unfortunately, the difference between playing the 2023 Cardinals and the next opponent, the Atlanta Braves, is substantial.
The NY Mets can still make a statement against the Braves this week
Winning their series against the Cardinals after doing the same against the Pittsburgh Pirates prior has kept the math in favor of the Mets having a chance at a miracle. They haven't made up much ground, though. They've been playing about as well as the teams in front of them in the standings.
Mets players are finding ways to avoid a complete tank of the year. A roster with DJ Stewart, Rafael Ortega, and Jonathan Arauz playing regularly has somehow kept them afloat. The upside shouldn't go further than enjoying a chance to see your team win. Scraping their way into the playoffs can give the players some more confidence, but if you stick around to hold your breath for it to happen, you’re going to turn blue.
The Mets are in the precarious position of needing the sixth worst record in MLB or risk seeing their draft spot drop ten places because of this year’s payroll. The players and coaches obviously don't seem to care about where they'll pick. The team is winning but maybe not for long.
Here come the Braves, again.
It was only one weekend ago when the Braves crushed the Mets. The 21-3 score in the first game of their Saturday doubleheader is fresh. Losing three of four served as a reminder of who the 2023 Mets are. They're not even close to matching Atlanta. Beating up on the Cardinals and Pirates was an ego boost. What this told us is that they probably are a true .500 ball club.
By the way, New York is still pushing the boulder up the hill to get there.
We have to look beyond the Braves only to see the upcoming homestead for some more reality. The Los Angeles Angels are beatable but then come the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners. Both are in the AL playoff hunt. Much like the Braves, they should already be licking their chops when they spot the Mets on the schedule.
A real statement by the Mets will require them to take two of three from the Braves on the road this week. Once that happens, we can probably start calculating improbable playoff probability.
Only four teams in the NL have a worse record than the Mets. They happened to play half of those clubs last week. Spend today grinning. Don't cancel your October plans until we see this against a team the Mets shouldn't beat. Don’t let your heart get broken.