The New York Mets will finally play a game without playoff implications Thursday night. However, manager Mickey Callaway is hoping to see the same traits from the Mets that made their stretch run unexpectedly interesting and entertaining.
The Mets will look to win a series from the Miami Marlins when they host the National League East rival in the finale of a four-game set.
Zack Wheeler (11-7, 3.99 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Mets against the Marlins' Jordan Yamamoto (4-5, 4.83) in a battle of right-handers.
The Mets earned a 10-3 win Wednesday night but had their playoff hopes officially extinguished in the eighth inning, when the Milwaukee Brewers clinched the NL's final postseason berth with a 9-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Entering Wednesday, the Mets needed to win their final five games and have the Brewers to drop their final five games in order to force a one-game playoff to decide the NL's second wild-card team. But Callaway knew that was asking a lot considering Milwaukee has gone 20-4 since Aug. 31.
"I thought we played pretty good baseball down the stretch to try and stay in it," Callaway said. "Obviously, Milwaukee was just off the charts, and nobody was catching them."
The Mets got back into contention with their own off-the-charts run from July 25 through Aug. 10, during which they went 15-1 to go from eight games out of the second wild card to a half-game back. But New York could never get over the hump and was only on the periphery of contention following a six-game losing streak from Aug. 23-29.
Still, the Mets (83-75) will finish with a winning record after having the second-worst record in the NL entering July 4. They are the first team to pull off such a comeback since the 1988 San Diego Padres, who had the second-worst record in the NL entering July 4 and finished 83-78.
"Did we get to our ultimate goal and get in the playoffs? No, and that stinks," Callaway said. "But we fought (as) hard as any team I've ever seen. So I'm proud of those guys for that. Now we have games left, and we're going to go out and try to win the rest of them."
The Marlins (55-103) will hope Yamamoto can avoid the type of learning experiences endured by fellow rookie right-hander Robert Dugger on Wednesday, when Dugger ended his season by giving up seven runs (six earned) over two innings.
"I think at the end of the day, sometimes some lessons don't maybe feel so good, but (they're) still good for you at the end of the day if you take them right," Miami manager Don Mattingly said.
Neither Wheeler nor Yamamoto factored into the decision last Saturday. Wheeler gave up two runs (one earned) over seven innings as the Mets fell to the Reds, 3-2. Yamamoto allowed two runs over 4 1/3 innings in the Marlins' 10-4, 10-inning loss to the Washington Nationals.
Wheeler is 7-2 with a 1.77 ERA in 13 career starts against the Marlins, including 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two outings this year. Yamamoto lost his lone start against the Mets on Aug. 7, when he gave up four runs over six innings as Miami fell 7-2.
--Field Level Media
Mets hope to shake off playoff miss with win over Marlins