5 things to watch as Mets play three-game series against Cardinals with playoffs still within reach

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Francisco Lindor Javier Baez celebrate after win over Yankees September 2021
Francisco Lindor Javier Baez celebrate after win over Yankees September 2021

The Mets and St. Louis Cardinals play a three-game series at Citi Field starting on Monday.

Here are five things to watch...

The playoffs are still within reach

The Mets enter play on Monday 5.0 games back of the Atlanta Braves for first place in the NL East but just 3.0 games back of the San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds, who are tied for the second Wild Card spot.

The Cardinals are 1.0 game behind the Padres and Reds, and between the Mets and Philadelphia Phillies in the standings.

Per Baseball Prospectus' odds, the Mets have a better chance to make the playoffs than the Cardinals, so New York's push for October is still real. They just need to keep winning.

Battle of the 40-somethings

Monday night's game will feature 41-year-old Rich Hill starting against 40-year-old Adam Wainwright.

Hill is having a solid season and has been very good since being traded to the Mets earlier this summer, and Wainwright is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career, with a 2.98 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 28 starts over 184.1 IP.

Wainwright allowed four runs against the Los Angeles Dodgers while tossing 8.1 innings during his last start

What can Francisco Lindor do for an encore?

Lindor went off on Sunday night against the Yankees, blasting three home runs to lead the Mets to a victory in the final game of the Subway Series.

Sep 12, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) watches after hitting a three run home run in the second inning against the New York Yankees at Citi Field.
Sep 12, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) watches after hitting a three run home run in the second inning against the New York Yankees at Citi Field.

Even before his signature game as a Met, Lindor had been on fire lately, with a .727 slugging percentage in 12 games in September.

How close is Brandon Nimmo?

Nimmo has been progressing incredibly fast as he works his way back from a hamstring injury.

Speaking before Sunday's game, Nimmo said that he could be activated from the IL as soon as this week.

Whether that comes against the Cardinals or later this week against the Phillies remains to be seen, but whenever Nimmo is back, he'll provide a huge jolt to a Mets team that still hopes to be in the playoff chase.

Red-hot Javier Baez

Since being acquired from the Cubs, Javier Baez is hitting .302/.357/.566 with seven homers and seven doubles in 29 games.

During his current five-game hitting streak, Baez has 10 hits in 21 at-bats, including two doubles and two homers.

And the free-swinging Baez has struck out just once over those five games