Contenders and pretenders in the National LeagueDate: August 11, 2019
By: Joe Cammarota
As baseball is now in the dog days of August, teams have made themselves contenders and others have shown that they are pretenders. Two teams that exemplify this are two teams the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates.
At the All-Star break the Pirates were only two-and-a-half games back from the division lead. They had a hot slugger in Josh Bell and their pitching looked to get stronger. Not to mention, they had a rookie having a silently amazing season in Bryan Reynolds. The Buccos had a lot of potential, even though they were under .500, there were many reason to think the team could make a push to the playoffs, one big one was how weak the NL was as a whole.
The dream of the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans had of making the postseason has since been destroyed in horrific fashion. The team has only won 4 games since the All-Star break. The break ended on August 12. The team has played 27 games since then (and as of the writing of this article). That means since the break they have went a horrible 4-23.
Some causes for this are Bell’s struggles at the plate, and the pitching has not performed well. Also, the Pirates are only getting steady production out of one player on offense at the moment and that is from Starling Marte. The Pirates say they will be contending in 2020, but they need to clean house as they are showing too much faith in a terrible team, and awful management.
Now, on the other end of the spectrum is the New York Mets. At the All-Star break the Mets were ten games under .500 and looked like team that needed to blow itself up and start over. Since the all-Star break however, the New York Mets have gone 21-6, and have won 15 of 16.
The Mets also bought at the deadline, trading for ace Marcus Stroman, showing that they trusted the team to turn it around, and worst case scenario getting ready to gun for the playoffs in 2020.
Instead this has rejuvenated the team, and with the pitching showing what they are supposed to be, having about three aces on the team in DeGrom, Syndergaard, and now Stroman, they have the pitching to shut teams down.
Not only that, but their bats have been on fire recently, with Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso lighting opposing teams pitching staff up night after night. On top of that, the team has shown resolve, Friday night they scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to erase a three-run deficit against the Washington Nationals.
The Mets have everything going their way right now. Sometimes confidence is everything, and they are exuding lots of it. The Mets are not only a half game back from a Wild Card spot and there is a long way to go, but it’s hard not to like these Mets.
It’s like something Amazin’ is going on in Queens again, 50 years later.
Joe Cammarota can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.