NEW YORK -- And now for meaningful games in October.
The New York Mets and San Francisco Giants will meet in Wednesday’s National League wild-card game at Citi Field at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Noah Syndergaard (14-9, 2.60 ERA) opposes left-hander Madison Bumgarner (15-9, 2.74). Those aces finished third and fourth, respectively, in ERA among major league qualifiers. Only Kyle Hendricks (2.13) and Jon Lester (2.44), both of the Chicago Cubs, had better ERAs.
The Mets won the season series from the Giants, 4-3. That’s why the game will be played in New York despite the teams finishing with identical 87-75 records.
The Mets have Monday off. They will work out at Citi Field at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Team officials will not have major roster decisions because wild-card teams typically only carry nine or 10 pitchers for that winner-take-all game. That allows for 15 or 16 position players. If the Mets reach the division series against the Cubs, it gets tougher. And the Mets may be faced with decisions such as whether to carry Alejandro De Aza or Michael Conforto.
MONDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:
The Mets concluded their regular season with a meaningless 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies bid farewell to Ryan Howard, the lone remaining member of their 2008 championship team, whose option for $23 million for next season will be declined. Howard finishes his Phillies career having hit .242 with 48 homers and 136 RBIs in 176 games against the Mets. The long-ball total is tied for fourth all time against the Mets, trailing only Willie Stargell (60), Chipper Jones (49) and Mike Schmidt (49). With Syndergaard content to throw a bullpen session and not pitch in the game, Gabriel Ynoa allowed one run in 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision. Erik Goeddel surrendered three runs (two earned) while failing to record an out and was charged with the loss. Read game recaps and looks ahead to the wild-card game in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record suggests the Mets would have fired Terry Collins had his team not won an Aug. 13 game against the San Diego Padres. Writes Klapisch about the near-termination: “So says one member of the organization, who believes Collins’ job was saved incrementally -- first by a victory on the 13th, then two more wins in three games. The streak was modest, but it bought Collins enough breathing room to finally reverse the Mets’ fortunes. They posted baseball’s best record down the stretch, in part because the Triple-A call-ups all succeeded, but also because Collins never lost his gift for connecting with the players.”
Yoenis Cespedes indicated that he did not feel too good "personally" Saturday when he did not participate with teammates in the clinching celebration. Cespedes closed the regular season in a 3-for-24 rut and apparently is taking his struggles hard. “These guys are proud, man,” Collins said. “Don’t ever think they just take stuff for granted and blow it off. They don’t like to be embarrassed. And he had a bad day and he was not happy about it.” Read more from columnist Joel Sherman in the Post and in Newsday.
Bumgarner praised Syndergaard, telling Fred Kerber in the Post: “He’s obviously got really good stuff, probably the best stuff for a starter in all of baseball. … His 100 mph fastball that he can command really good and the slider at 94 mph, you don’t see that every day. But I’ve got all the confidence in the world in my guys in there. I’m just excited and ready to go.”
Although the Mets are facing the left-handed Bumgarner, they’re expected to start a lefty hitter at first base -- Lucas Duda or James Loney -- rather than a righty hitter such as Eric Campbell. Read more in the Post.
Tim Tebow will play his final instructional league games on Monday and Thursday, both in Jupiter, Florida. The Mets then need to decide whether Tebow will participate in the Arizona Fall League, a winter league or just get individual instruction this offseason.
The Mets’ biggest advantage against the Giants is in the bullpen, columnist David Lennon writes in Newsday.
From the bloggers … Mets Report looks at the wild-card roster decisions.
BIRTHDAYS: The late Jack Lamabe was born on this date in 1936.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Who would you start at first base against Bumgarner?