With Mets' seed locked, what's next? Postseason FAQ

3:17 AM UTC

If it feels like the Mets clinched a postseason berth weeks ago, that’s because they did. Despite locking down their first playoff nod since 2016 in mid-September, the Mets’ upcoming road has only recently come into focus.

Now, with the postseason nearly here, it’s becoming easier to see how things might unfold for the Mets moving forward this October.

What could the postseason roster look like?
The Mets’ initial playoff roster will probably include some quirks, since they’re only prepping for a best-of-three Wild Card Series. Here’s one stab at how it could look:

C: James McCann, Tomás Nido
1B: Pete Alonso
2B: Jeff McNeil, Luis Guillorme
3B: Eduardo Escobar
SS: Francisco Lindor
OF: Brandon Nimmo, Mark Canha, Tyler Naquin, Terrance Gore
DH: Daniel Vogelbach, Mark Vientos, Francisco Álvarez, Darin Ruf
SP: Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Chris Bassitt
RP: Edwin Díaz, Adam Ottavino, Seth Lugo, Trevor May, Joely Rodríguez, Drew Smith, Mychal Givens, David Peterson

Because the Mets won’t need more than three starting pitchers in the Wild Card Series, it’s fair to assume they’ll leave both Taijuan Walker and Carlos Carrasco off the roster altogether. Those two will instead throw bullpen sessions to stay fresh in advance of a potential NL Division Series matchup against the Dodgers, clearing space for the Mets to carry nearly every member of their regular bullpen. Tylor Megill is also an option to make the roster over anyone currently projected to hold a spot in the back half of the bullpen, or perhaps instead of one of the Mets' right-handed bench bats. But Megill is currently on the COVID-related IL and may not be eligible to return by Friday.

One lineup uncertainty is rookie catcher Francisco Álvarez, whom the Mets called up for their final six games of the season but remained mostly relegated to the bench -- until he produced two extra-base hits Tuesday against the Nationals. Starling Marte's injury could create a spot for Álvarez to make the team alongside Vientos, or potentially for Darin Ruf if the Mets choose to carry the veteran.

Who will they play in the first round?
The Mets are locked into playing the Padres, who beat them four times in six tries earlier this year. In addition to superstar sluggers Juan Soto and Manny Machado, San Diego features one of the top rotations in baseball. In a best-of-three series, the Padres are likely to throw Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove at the Mets.

What time are the games and where will they be broadcast?
MLB announced Wild Card broadcast details as follows:

Friday: 8:07 p.m. ET, ESPN
Saturday: 7:37 p.m. ET, ESPN
Sunday (if necessary): 7:37 p.m. ET, ESPN

(If the Rays-Guardians series ends in two games, the league would move Sunday’s Padres-Mets game to 4 p.m. ET.)

ESPN’s Karl Ravech, David Cone, Eduardo Pérez and Buster Olney will be the broadcast team for the entire series. SNY does not have the broadcasting rights for postseason games, but Gary Cohen is scheduled to lead the network’s pre- and postgame coverage live from a set at Citi Field.

And if they win?
The winner of that Wild Card Series will travel to Los Angeles for the first two games of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers beginning Oct. 11. The NLCS would be against either the Braves, Cardinals or Phillies.

How might the Mets line up their pitching?
Although they were hoping for a bye past the Wild Card Series, the Mets were at least able to line up their pitching how they wanted. That means Scherzer in Game 1, followed by either deGrom or Bassitt in Game 2.

The most straightforward plan would be for the Mets to start deGrom on Saturday. However, there’s benefit to using Bassitt in Game 2 instead, particularly if the Mets win Game 1. A sweep behind Bassitt would allow them to line up their three best pitchers for the first three games of the NLDS. If Bassitt instead loses Wild Card Game 2, the Mets would have one of their aces lined up to start a winner-take-all Game 3.

It’s a risk with some logic to it. The Mets, who have yet to announce their pitching plans beyond Scherzer, are certainly considering both the straightforward and creative options.

What is the Mets’ health situation?
The most significant health concern continues to be right fielder Starling Marte, who fractured his right middle finger on Sept. 6 and has yet to return. There’s a chance Marte could miss the entire Wild Card Series and possibly some time beyond it as well, though Mets officials continue to express uncertainty regarding his timeline.

The team will also continue to monitor deGrom, whose last two outings were impacted by a blister on his right middle finger. deGrom has insisted that the blister won’t be an issue going forward, but until he proves it, worry will follow him.

Finally, right-handed platoon bat Darin Ruf missed the end of the regular season due to neck stiffness. Even if he were healthy, Ruf might not have made the Wild Card Series roster for strategic reasons. The injury provides an easy excuse for the Mets to keep him off it, though team officials were still debating that at the end of the regular season.