The Mets were bit by a double-whammy Saturday, and this one stung hard.
The Mets (26-33) were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention following their 4-3 loss to the Nationals in Game 1 of a doubleheader. They also dropped Game 2 with a 5-3 loss at Nationals Park. This is the fourth straight year the Mets did not qualify for the playoffs, and the 17th time this century. Except this year, with the Mets' talented roster and immense expectations, their elimination was especially humiliating.
"It's the toughest loss of the year because it takes us out from what we're trying to achieve," manager Luis Rojas said. "It's not the season that we anticipated from the start. We felt we were going to be that team that was going to be part of that playoff group and we didn't achieve our goal."
Eight teams from each circuit - in other words, more than half the league - will make this year's expanded postseason, and even then, the Mets didn't qualify. The non-exclusive, everyone-gets-in playoff structure was designed to make up for team struggles that accompany playing through a pandemic. The Mets had their fair share of challenges, but so did other teams. Rojas' club was playing catch up the whole year.
Adding insult to injury, Jacob deGrom almost certainly ended his chance to win the National League Cy Young award for the third consecutive year. He finished the season with a 2.38 ERA and 104 strikeouts over 68 innings and 12 starts. Reds righty Trevor Bauer, now the favorite to win the Cy Young, has a 1.73 ERA and .795 WHIP with 100 strikeouts over 73 innings.
"There's a lot of disappointment," deGrom said of the Mets' elimination. "Where eight teams go in and we didn't make it, that's pretty frustrating. I think the level of disappointment is very high."
In the past two Septembers, deGrom had a good feeling about his chances of winning the NL Cy Young. He'd experienced being the favorite to win the award by his final starts of the season. This year, the right-hander was asked who he thought would walk away with the trophy and, as much as it probably hurt him to say it, deGrom offered his predictions.
"I don't know honestly, I guess Bauer and Yu Darvish," deGrom said. "I don't know. I would've liked to be there in the talks, but I don't think tonight helped me."
DeGrom was charged with three runs - tying his season-high of runs allowed - on five hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts in five innings against the Nationals. He gave up two home runs, both to Nationals left fielder Andrew Stevenson. He took deGrom deep in the third, then lined an inside-the-park home run off the left-field wall as Dominic Smith crashed face-first into the wall and couldn't make the play. The third run he surrendered came on a wild pitch in the fourth.
The Mets were always uncomfortable and trying to make up for lost time this season. They couldn't enjoy the year from a favorable position after failing to climb back from the sub-.500 record they posted since July 30 – their seventh game of the 60-game sprint. The Mets deeply struggled to build momentum and didn't win more than three games in a row this year.
"Teams just go through challenges like this," Rojas said. "We just didn't get to that point where we got hot even though we fixed things. It just didn't happen for us."
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