After remaining in playoff contention until the final week of the 2019 season and the final weekend of the 2020 season, the New York Mets had bigger goals in mind for 2021, especially after spending most of the first four months atop the National League East.
Instead, the Mets will spend the season’s final week already eliminated from postseason contention and with even the smallest of tangible goals — finishing .500 — out of reach.
The Mets are scheduled to open their final homestand Tuesday afternoon, when they host the Miami Marlins in a doubleheader. Right-handers Marcus Stroman (9-13, 3.00 ERA) and Trevor Williams (4-2, 4.39 ERA) are slated to take the mound for New York.
The Marlins are expected to counter with left-hander Trevor Rogers (7-8, 2.67 ERA) in the opener. Miami has not yet announced a nightcap starter.
The doubleheader was necessitated by a rainout at Citi Field on Sept. 1.
Both teams were off Monday after being swept over the weekend by foes who clinched division championships at their expense. The Mets fell to the National League Central champion Milwaukee Brewers, 8-4, on Sunday, when the Marlins lost to the AL East winners, the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-2.
The win Sunday clinched the division for the Brewers, who celebrated with confetti falling from the roof at American Family Field as most of the Mets watched from the visiting dugout.
The Mets (73-82) thought they’d enjoy at least one clinching celebration when they spent 114 days in first place in the NL East, including a stretch from May 8 through Aug. 6. But New York, which led the division by five games following play July 31, is 17-34 since then, which was tied for the fourth-worst record in baseball.
The skid has only intensified this month for the Mets, who have lost 10 of their last 11 and were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday afternoon.
“In the second half, we didn’t play good enough baseball,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said Saturday night. “It led to this.”
Contention hasn’t been a reasonable goal this season for the Marlins (64-91), who didn’t spend a day above .500 and enter Tuesday a half-game ahead of the last-place Washington Nationals in the NL East.
But watching their Florida rivals clinch the AL East with Saturday’s 7-3 win provided the Marlins a glimpse at the type of sustained success they’d like to eventually achieve.
“Obviously, they have a secret sauce that you’ve got to crack into,” Marlins general manager Kim Ng said. “They’re not a flash in the pan, year-in and year-out, and I think that’s what everybody’s trying to get to.”
Stroman took the loss in his most recent start Sept. 21, when he gave up four runs over five innings as the Mets fell to the Boston Red Sox, 6-3. He is 0-0 with a 2.13 ERA in three career starts against the Marlins.
Williams hasn’t pitched since last Wednesday, when he surrendered six runs (four earned) over four innings of relief in the Mets’ 12-5 loss to the Red Sox. He made his most recent start Sept. 6 and didn’t factor into the decision after allowing two runs over five innings in the Mets’ 4-3 loss to the Nationals.
Williams is 0-1 with a 4.80 in four games (three starts) against Miami.
Rogers, who last pitched Sept. 21 and was credited with a loss (allowing four runs — one earned — in 5 1/3 innings) in a 7-1 defeat to the Nationals, is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in three career starts vs. the Mets.
–Field Level Media