Mets focus on gaining home-field advantage in NLDS
This week, with the NL East champion Mets playing the Phillies, general manager Sandy Alderson, manager Terry Collins and the coaching staff will begin hammering out a postseason roster.
This will be among the items on the end-of-season laundry list for the Mets, who are setting their sights on securing home-field advantage against the Dodgers in the Division Series.
"We're going to play to win as many games as we can and to try to get home-field advantage in the first round," Collins said during the weekend in Cincinnati. "I think it's very, very important to have that. I think it's something to shoot for. I think when you're still playing for something, it prepares you better."
As the Mets completed a sweep of the Reds on Sunday afternoon, many of the same boisterous fans who had watched the team clinch the day before quickly shifted their focus.
"Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!" they chanted. The Mets, who were idle Monday, are two games ahead of the Dodgers -- who lost to the Giants, 3-2, in 12 innings Monday night in San Francisco -- with six games remaining.
NLDS Game 1 will be Oct. 9, though as Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax mentioned in a congratulatory call to Collins, the venue has yet to be determined.
"I'll see you on the ninth," Collins said, relating the message. "Somewhere."
The Mets are 48-30 at Citi Field, an impressive .615 winning percentage.
"Yeah, it's a big deal, especially when you haven't been into the postseason in a long time," Michael Cuddyer said of home-field advantage. "It gives the fans just that added bit of excitement."
The Mets are 41-37 on the road but have won 11 straight away from home, a franchise record. Since July 1, their 30-11 mark on the road is the best in baseball. That surge came after they went 11-26 away from home during the first two months of the season.
Perhaps just as pressing is how the Mets shape their playoff roster. Alderson declined to comment on those decisions, saying there is "nothing to talk about" until he meets with Collins and the coaching staff in Philadelphia.
The Mets have tipped their hand in some ways. For instance, Jonathon Niese is headed to the bullpen and Bartolo Colon appears to be not too far behind.
In what is looking more and more like a preview of what's to come in the postseason, the Mets trotted out their Big Four -- Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz -- during the series against the Reds.
The results gave the Mets even more reason to lean on the quartet against the Dodgers: 26 innings, 34 strikeouts, zero walks. The group's average fastball velocity? 96.2 mph. Average age? 25.
"When you've got those types of arms that you can throw out there on a regular basis, it makes you feel good about the regular season, it makes you feel good about the postseason," David Wright said. "Those guys can just on any given day go out there and dominate. And they did that this series."
Platooning has become the norm for the Mets in the second half. But despite the Dodgers' lefty-heavy staff, led by three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, Collins has indicated that he'll lean upon the team's top lefthanded hitters: Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda.
Said Collins: "I'm not concerned about our lefthanded hitters against lefthanded pitching."