Flushing, NY: Flushing, NY: The Atlanta Braves move on to the postseason and the Mets after a season finale 7-6 win in extra innings at Citi Field Sunday left for the offseason with optimism. The Braves will open the NL Division Series Thursday at home against the winner of the wild card game between the Brewers and Nationals.
Again, though, Sunday afternoon, these Mets resembled a team that should be playing baseball in October with good starting pitching and for the most part playing playoff baseball against their division rivals.
The Mets bullpen, a culprit towards losing late games in the first half of this season let this final one get away again because the bullpen, responsible for 37 ninth inning home run balls in the ninth inning, allowed a game tying home run to Adeiny Hechavarria.
But then, as was the situation in the second half of this campaign, the never quit Mets returned and Dominic Smith got the walk-off three-run home run for the win that concluded a 86-76 season, the first at bat for Smith who was on the injured list for two months with a broken left foot.
Successful for the Mets as they improved over their finish of their 2018 club of 77-85. Yes, they left Citi Field with optimism as the Braves now prepare for a quest at reaching the World Series.
Dominic Smith: Credit George Napolitano
They left 2019 with Pete Alonso, 53 home runs and a new rookie record that should get him a unanimous NL Rookie of The Year Award and led all rookies in hits, runs, RBI (120), total bases, games played, on base percentage, slugging and extra base hits.
And Jacob deGrom could earn his second straight Cy Young Award.
Decisions for next year are in the balance regarding manager Mickey Calalway and if he returns for the final year of his contract. The offseason will be busy and the bullpen, again, responsible and a culprit as to why the Mets are not playing in October is set for a major revamp. Questions could revolve around the future of Edwin Diaz, who came to New York in a trade this past offseason along with Robinson Cano..
As for Cano, who battled injuries with hamstrings and quads, and numerous stints on the injured list, he prepares for a rigorous offseason of working on the legs and getting back to form as he gets a year older at 37-years of age.
No talk of Yoenis Cespedes, and do the Mets take the loss on the remaining years of a lucrative contract? Cespedes, as the Mets departed for the Winter, was home on his ranch in Florida and numerous reports indicate he is not a part of the plan for 2020 after surgery on his ankles that kept him inactive this season.
Cano said about his first season,” It’s kind of hard to describe when you go home and work hard to get ready every single day and work hard and get injured. It’s hard. I’ve been always working hard on my body This year worked on the legs and keep then stronger.”
Cano believes the Mets are a step away from being a part of the postseason next year. He cited the youngsters of Alonso, Jeff McNeil. J.D. Davis, who finished with a .300 season at the plate, Michael Conforto, and Amed Rosario.
“Anyone who gets a chance to play on the major league level has talent,” he said. “Everyone here has talent Guy like Davis. It’s amazing to see all the young guys how they worked and had a good year.”
He said about Alonso, who was not supposed to break spring training , “Never had a chance to be in the same room with someone who goes out and worked hard like that. We have a great team. What we have here, I said this from the beginning, especially especially with our rotation.”
So Cano was looking forward. He took this final win and good second half as a message, one that will be carried into the offseason and spring training in early February.
Just a brief look at some of the accomplishments for the Mets in 2019 and what could have been as indicated by their second half statistics:
48 wins at home that surpassed last year, 25-13 since the All-Star break.
126 home runs at Citi Field in 81 games a new franchise record.
242 home runs as a team, a franchise record, fifth in the National League.
46-26 second half second best in the National League, fourth best in the majors.
Pitching staff overall since the All-Star break, 3.46 ERA fourth lowest in the majors.
Mets starters 3.12 ERA in the second half was the best mark in the majors.
Mets pitching staff struck out 1,520 batters this season that set a new franchise record.
Amed Rosario improved his defense at shortstop and led the team with 177 hits.
“I’m proud of what we did this year,” Callaway said. “Do we have more to accomplish? Way more. And I’d like to be under my watch.”
Of course the return of Mickey Callaway is uncertain. The decision could come this week. But overall the Mets truly have the chemistry to get there next October as the Dodgers, Nationals, Brewers, Braves, and Cardinals begin their quest for a World Series title out of the National League this week
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