By Declan Finn
Believe it or not, the New York Mets are now legitmate contenders for the final wild card spot in the National League. We've been hinting at their chances for the past week, but by moving within 5.5 games of the final playoff spot, it's official, the Mets have a legitmate shot to make the playoffs. It would be shocking, yes, but thanks to a bunch of teams stumbling toward the finish line, shocking is quickly turning into possible.
Here is a breakdown of those teams in the wild card hunt and what needs to happen for the Mets to make up ground as the season comes close to its end.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Mets aren't going to reach the wild card leading-Giants, so there's no need to worry about them. The Pirates are the team the Mets will be chasing, as they currently hold the second wild card spot heading into Wednesday's games. The Pirates lead the Braves and Brewers by 1.5 games, the Marlins by 3.5 and the Mets by 5.5. Pittsburgh is at Philadelphia tonight in the continuation of a four-game series. The Pirates won the first game and lost the second Tuesday night. Pittsburgh has 18 games left in the season.
Atlanta Braves: The Braves are 1.5 games back of the Pirates and are tied with the Brewers. They are playing the final game of a three-game series with the Nationals now, having lost the first two, and three in a row overall. The Braves have 17 games to go.
Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers have been in a free-fall, losing 13 of their last 14 games to drop 1.5 games back of the Pirates. They have lost four straight, including the first two games of a four-game series againt the Marlins, a team also in the playoff chase. That series continues tonight. Milwaukee has 17 games left this season.
Miami Marlins: The Marlins have won three games in a row, including the first two games against Milwaukee, to move within 3.5 games of the Pirates. They continue their four-game series with the Brewers tonight. The Marlins and Mets are the only two teams with under-.500 records that still have a shot at the postseason in either league. Miami has 19 games left on the schedule.
New York Mets: The Mets are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now, winning six of their last seven games to somehow get back into the playoff chase. They are 5.5 games back of the second wild card and have 17 games to make up the deficit. The Mets hope to close out a three-game sweep against the Rockies tonight, after winning the first two games. Over the last 10 games, the Mets have gained two games on the Pirates, four games on the Braves, six games on the Brewers, and one game on the Marlins. If the Mets keep on winning, and keep on getting help from the teams above them, they just might make the final couple weeks of the season very interesting. The Mets need to win tonight and have the Pirates, Braves and Brewers lose. Although Miami losing to Milwaukee might not be such a bad thing, considering the Brewers don't seem to have a shot at the playoffs now.