Believe it or not, the New York Mets are in the playoffs. Through all the trials and tribulations that was the 2016 New York Mets, the boys from Flushing have survived and will playing some serious October baseball starting on Wednesday when they meet up with either the San Francisco Giants or St. Louis Cardinals in the wild card game.
While, the Mets and the Mets' fan wants to celebrate 'being in the playoffs', the wild card game is more like a appetizer. Win the game and then there is reason to celebrate as the real playoffs begin in the NLDS. Lose and the season is over after just one game.
With that being said, give credit to the Mets, nobody thought they would ever get to this point. A team that loses the likes of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, David Wright and Neil Walker for the season, and even loses Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores and Yoenis Cespedes to nagging injuries throughout the year, should have no business being in the playoffs.
Yet, here they are. The Mets found a way to get to the postseason because they refused to allow injuries to be their death nail. They mixed and matched the best they could with career minor leaguers and aging veteran players. They gambled on Jose Reyes, a former star with the franchise who fell on hard times both in his personal life and on the field. Reyes solidified the team both in the lead-off spot and at third base in the place of the injured Wright.
They gambled on James Loney, a 32-year-old first baseman, once out of the majors, who hit nine homers and drove in 34 in 99 games, taking over full time for a healing Lucas Duda.
They even gambled on Jay Bruce, a veteran outfielder formally with the Reds, whom they acquired in July. For seven weeks that gamble looked like a pure disaster, but Bruce finished the season with a seven game hitting streak, along with four home runs and eight RBI. He picked it up nicely when the Mets needed it the most and turned around from boos to Bruuuuuuce!
More importantly the Mets got great contributions from a group of unlikely rookies. T.J. Rivera, Rene Rivera at the plate, and Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman from the mound were all tremendous for New York down the stretch. Gsellman went 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA in seven starts, while Lugo was 5-2 in eight games with an ERA of 2.60. Those two were huge, especially for a team that was without Harvey and deGrom for a majority of the year.
As late as August 20, after a disparaging loss to San Francisco, Collins found his team two games under .500 at 60-62. The team went 27-12 since. That is an incredible accomplishment worthy of celebration by a team that wasn't expected to be here.
While a celebration for a wild card berth is usually premature, the Mets deserve to celebrate a little bit. They got to the playoffs the hard way. Now they have to get through Madison Bumgarner and the Giants on Wednesday night.