On August 19, after a brutal 8-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants, the New York Mets, defending champions of the National League, were 60-62. Their playoff odds were 6.7%, per Fangraphs. 6.7%! It wasn’t quite the home stretch to the 2016 season the Mets had visualized when they entered the year looking to defend their pennant and complete the path to redemption in the World Series. When they re-signed Yoenis Cespedes on January 26, they looked poised to do it, with a rotation that was being hailed as potentially one of the greatest of all time, and a mostly-intact offense from last season’s number one NL offensive team in the second half. Baseball wouldn’t have it that way.
It’s been quite a week for both the New York Mets and Washington Nationals, though the two teams have seen very different results. The Mets, currently riding a five-game win streak that included a sweep of the Nats, are back in first place in the National League East for the first time since early June, despite the returns for the Nationals of injured starters Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. Many factors allowed the Mets to sweep the Nats this weekend, including their fireballing young trio of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard, the overall – and sudden – ineptitude of the Nats’ offense (see figure below, courtesy of ESPN, for an overview), the addition of two-time Home Run Derby champion and 4.2 WAR outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a suddenly-deep Mets lineup, and the magma-hot bat of Mets first baseman Lucas Duda, who had an incredible run that saw nine home runs hit in an eight-game span, and was awarded co-National League Player of the Week for his efforts.