NEW YORK -- Now that the Mets have taken care of business in winning the National League East, the next step in their march toward their first World Series championship since 1986 will be the National League Division Series the first week in October.
Who they'll meet in that best-of-five matchup won't be known for some time -- perhaps even until the last day of the season.
The fact the Mets have an all-but-insurmountable lead for the National League's best record narrows the scenarios somewhat. The club with the best record is matched against the league's Wild Card winner -- unless that runner-up comes from the same division as the team with the best record. That means if the Wild Card team comes from the Central or West, that team would be the Mets' first opponent.
However, if the Phillies, Marlins or Braves win the NL Wild Card, that club would be matched against the NL division champion with the second-best record. In that case, the Mets would meet the division champion with the worst record.
If the season ended today, the NLDS would shape up with the Mets meeting the Padres and the Cardinals taking on the Dodgers.
Dates for the NLDS playoffs are set, and vary by series. The series involving the Wild Card team begins on Wednesday, Oct. 4, while the other series begins on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
In the series involving the Wild Card, the division champion has home games on Oct. 4-5. Following a travel day, the Wild Card hosts Game 3 on Oct. 7 and a potential Game 4 on Oct. 8. Should a fifth game be necessary, the division champion would host that on Oct. 9.
In the series between two division champions, the team with the best record has home games on Oct. 3 and 5. Following a travel day, the series shifts to Game 3 on Oct. 7 and a potential Game 4 on Oct. 8. Should a fifth game be necessary, the team with the better record would host that on Oct. 9.
The National League Championship Series is scheduled to begin on Wednesday Oct. 11. The World Series starts Oct. 21.