So the three-way battle for third place, a priority that came from top brass, isn’t going so well these days for the Mets.
With 21 games to go, the Mets are now five games behind the Phillies. They’re up 2.5 games on the Marlins, so they have to be considered the favorites right now to stay out of last place. Miami does get a final crack at the Mets on the final weekend of the season, however, so if the Mets want to enter that series without fourth place on the line, they’ll need to increase their lead a bit between now and October 1.
The real concern, as someone who has many friends from childhood who root for the Phillies and, quite frankly, doesn’t want to hear about it, is this late-season renaissance from Philadelphia. The Phillies traded vets like Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino at the non-waiver trade deadline in July. But they kept Cole Hamels, and put up a 17-12 August, 7-2 September.
The Phillies are now just five games behind the Cardinals for the second NL wild card. Their upcoming schedule is two more against the last-place Marlins, four in Houston, and then three at Citi Field against the struggling Mets. So they’re set up to have a good week-plus. The teams ahead of them-the Cardinals, the Dodgers and the Pirates- face different challenges. The Cardinals and Dodgers face each other, while the Pirates, struggling in September so far, have two more in Cincinnati and four winnable games at Wrigley Field against the Cubs.
So the Phillies managed to dig a big enough hole that making it back to the playoffs is nearly impossible, one hopes. Still, this Phillies team is just as unlikely to cede a five-game cushion over the Mets with 21 to play.
It’s time to root against the Marlins, which is easy enough for many, many reasons. Because the newly-revised goal ought to be avoiding the cellar.
And please, Pirates/Cardinals/Dodgers, do your jobs. I don’t need to receive pictures and videos from another Philliess victory parade, thank you very much.