With less than two months remaining in the 2023 MLB season and the trade deadline just past as of 6pm on Tuesday, August 1, we now have an excellent look at how the playoff picture could shake out as 12 teams will have a chance to compete for eternal glory in their quest for a World Series championship.
A Tale of Two Seasons: New York
When the season began back in March, the New York Mets were on the short list of teams with excellent chances of winning it all, fresh off the acquisition of reigning American League Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander and stud left-hander Jose Quintana, fortifying a rotation that already boasted future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer.
Fast forward four months and some change, and neither Verlander or Scherzer is on the team anymore, flipped at the trade deadline as the Mets have struggled to a 50-55 record as of the end of play on July 31, 17.5 games out of first place in the top-heavy NL East and six games out of the final wild card spot, a position they’d have to jump five teams in the standings in order to secure.
A Tale of Two Seasons: Cincinnati
Some 680 miles to the southwest in Cincinnati, Ohio, the opposite story has played out. The Reds weren’t expected to do much of anything this season, widely projected as one of the worst clubs in a pitiful NL Central division (and, therefore, one of the worst teams in the entire league) before the season started.
The club stumbled out of the gate, tying a season worst at eight games below .500 on May 25, but they’ve been on a tear ever since, going 38-20 across their past 58 games and catapulting themselves to first place in the division.
Cincinnati knew the division was up for grabs (and once a team makes the postseason, anything can happen), so they went for broke, calling up top prospects like left-handed pitcher Andrew Abbott, unicorn shortstop Elly De La Cruz and infielder Christian Encarnacion-Strand as the youth movement begins in full force.
The two teams, both on wildly different paths, will meet in New York in mid-September, with a three game series in Queens beginning on September 15. Join the excitement of the Mets vs. Reds Clash of Strategies at Citi Field Stadium and get in on the action with Ohio betting apps.
Two Worlds Collide
Here’s a look at how the matchup could play out.
While the Reds didn’t end up making a major splash at the deadline (with their window of contention just opening and a young core in place, why sacrifice future building blocks by pushing all their chips in now?) general manager Nick Krall kept his ear to the ground regarding any potential trade opportunities, staying in the mix as teams competed to acquire Verlander.
The 40-year-old ended up going to the Houston Astros, leaving us to question what could have been had Verlander ended up in Cincinnati with a chance to face his former club in the waning weeks of the regular season.
Even though the Mets are sellers, that’s not to say they’re in the process of rebuilding. With key players like Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil and closer Edwin Díaz all under contract for the better part of the next decade (and first baseman Pete Alonso almost certainly the next domino as the Mets look to lock him up long term before he hits the open market in 2025), New York has plenty of talent in place.
They’ve had some awful luck this season—like when Díaz went down with a torn patellar tendon in March, an injury that will keep him out until September at the earliest—and relying on a pair of pitchers well on the wrong side of 35 in Verlander and Scherzer wasn’t the best idea. That said, they knew when to cut their losses, and it’ll be fascinating to see how the team rebounds following the trade deadline.
The Reds/Mets series will have plenty of intrigue as one of the youngest teams in the league looks to keep their foot on the gas through the end of the grueling season. It’ll also give hedge fund tycoon and Mets’ owner Steve Cohen an idea of just how much he needs to spend to bring his club back to respectability in 2024.