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Let’s examine the rest of the 2019 season for the Wild Card contenders

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With 17 games to play in the season, the Mets find themselves two games back of a playoff spot.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

If you missed all the action late last night, the Chicago Cubs lost to the San Diego Padres for a second straight game. This outcome, paired with a third straight victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, has the New York Mets sitting within two games of a playoff spot as they begin play today.

The Mets have 17 games to go in the regular season, a number which will bring back unpleasant memories for those who remember the 2007 and 2008 collapses. Still, there’s something distinctly different about this team. Besides playing from behind for most of the season, there’s a resilience in them that has shown ever since they returned home after a disheartening mid-July series against the San Francisco Giants. New York is now 30-16 since that series and are within a stone’s throw of a playoff spot as they enter the home stretch.

The team cannot do it all by themselves, however. They will still need a lot of help from teams squaring off against the teams they are chasing. The lowly Padres have lent them a helping hand this week, but the Miami Marlins were none too helpful as they were swept at home by a Milwaukee Brewers team that just lost an MVP candidate in Christian Yelich for the remainder of the season. The Brewers now share that final playoff spot with Chicago. There are far more teams in the mix than there usually are for one playoff spot at this point in the season, so let’s take a look at their schedules to see how the rest of the 2019 season might play out.

New York Mets

For the Mets to pull off the unthinkable and sneak into the postseason, it will require them to keep winning. It’s really as simple as that. The Mets are still not in a position where they can afford to throw any games away, like they did against the Washington Nationals or—to a lesser extent—how they lost Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies. As we look at other team’s schedules, there are far too many teams still in the mix that enough can go wrong if the Mets even lose one more game that they should’ve won.

After today’s game against Arizona, the Mets will welcome the National League’s best club, the Los Angeles Dodgers. In that series, they will face their opponent’s big three—Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Walker Buehler. New York will counter with their own big three in Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Zack Wheeler. Ideally, the Mets will win two out of three, although stealing one game and dropping the other two wouldn’t necessarily be catastrophic. After that series, the Mets don’t play another team with a winning record until the final weekend of the year when they welcome the Atlanta Braves back to Citi Field.

The Mets embark on their final road trip of the season against the Colorado Rockies and the Cincinnati Reds. The two are a combined 129-163 (.442). The Mets need to win at least four, and probably need to aim for five. They return home following the series to host the Miami Marlins, whom they haven’t lost to at Citi Field this season. They close out the year with the Braves, who may or may not have anything to play for depending on how Los Angeles plays down the stretch.

Schedule:

1 vs. Arizona (75-71)
3 vs. Los Angeles (94-53)
3 @ Colorado (62-84)
3 @ Cincinnati (67-79)
4 vs. Miami (51-94)
3 vs. Atlanta (91-56)

11 home, 6 away
Combined record: 440-437 (.502)

Washington Nationals

Let’s include the Nationals because, while they’re still five-and-a-half games ahead of the Mets, their schedule is brutal down the stretch, which leaves them very much in play. As it stands now, Washington would host the Wild Card game on October 1. However, only the Phillies have a tougher schedule to close out the year. What makes it even tougher for the Nationals is that they play 11 games in 10 days to finish off 2019, which includes a day-night doubleheader against Philadelphia on September 24. The only losing team they’ll see is Miami, which is on the road. The Nationals are still in a good position, especially with two of the top pitchers in the game and an MVP candidate in Anthony Rendon.

Schedule:

1 @ Minnesota (89-56)
3 vs. Atlanta (91-56)
3 @ St. Louis (81-64)
3 @ Miami (51-94)
5 vs. Philadelphia (75-70)
3 vs. Cleveland (86-61)

11 home, 7 away
Combined record: 473-401 (.541)

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs still lead the Wild Card, but they now have company up at the top following two straight losses to San Diego. Their schedule isn’t too imposing over the final 17, but they do have to play seven of their final ten against the first place St. Louis Cardinals. The next seven games are critical for Chicago, as they head home to play the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates Reds before facing St. Louis. The Cubs will also have to survive without Javier Baez, who is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

Schedule:

1 @ San Diego (68-77)
3 vs. Pittsburgh (64-82)
3 vs. Cincinnati (67-79)
4 vs. St. Louis (81-64)
3 @ Pittsburgh (64-82)
3 @ St. Louis (81-64)

10 home, 7 away
Combined record: 425-448 (.487)

Milwaukee Brewers

Despite losing Yelich, the Brewers were still able to win three in a row against the Marlins. They have the easiest schedule of all remaining teams, but navigating that many games without an MVP-caliber player is a lot to ask. They also play more games on the road than they do at home, and their road record is 34-37 against a 43-31 record at Miller Park. They have also missed Keston Hiura, who remains injured and may also miss the rest of the year. Their starting pitching and bullpen is suspect, but they’ve proven that they can overcome adversity and hang with the rest of the teams as some have counted them out.

Schedule:

1 @ Miami (51-94)
3 @ St. Louis (81-64)
4 vs. San Diego (68-77)
3 vs. Pittsburgh (64-82)
3 @ Cincinnati (67-79)
3 @ Colorado (62-84)

7 home, 10 away
Combined record: 393-480 (.450)

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies have hung around despite their pitchers struggling to the tune of a 4.57 ERA and 4.91 FIP on the season. Bryce Harper has been on fire lately, but will it be enough to carry his new team into the postseason? Their schedule makes it hard to imagine them hanging around that much longer. After finishing off their homestand with two against the fading Boston Red Sox, they go on the road for 11 games. In that time, they will the face first-place Braves, the still-alive Cleveland Indians, and the Wild Card-leading Nationals. If they can withstand that barrage, they do have the advantage of closing things out against the Marlins.

Schedule:

1 vs. Atlanta (91-56)
2 vs. Boston (76-70)
3 @ Atlanta (91-56)
3 @ Cleveland (86-61)
5 @ Washington (80-64)
3 vs. Miami (51-94)

6 home, 11 away
Combined record: 475-401 (.542)

Arizona Diamondbacks

Heading into Citi Field, the Diamondbacks had won 12 out of 14 games. Since then, the roof has caved in on Arizona after losing the first three heading into this afternoon’s series finale. They were the closest team to the Cubs on Monday, but now find themselves looking up at the Mets, Phillies, Brewers, and Cubs with 16 games remaining on their schedule. After the Mets, they do have a reprieve as they face the Reds, the Marlins, and the Padres before facing their next tough challenger in the Cardinals. It’s hard to read the Diamondbacks, especially after they traded away Zack Greinke. Ketel Marte will need to carry them to the finish line if they want any realistic chance of making the playoffs, but relying on three rookie starting pitchers down the stretch might be too much to ask.

Schedule:

1 @ Mets (75-70)
3 vs. Cincinnati (67-79)
3 vs. Marlins (51-94)
3 @ San Diego (68-77)
3 vs. St. Louis (81-64)
3 vs. San Diego (68-77)

12 home, 4 away
Combined record: 410-418 (.495)