The New York Mets had won seven straight series before a key divisional match-up against the Atlanta Braves. They would not make it an eighth straight series.
1. Last season, the Mets failed on multiple occasions to deliver a knockout blow to the Braves leading to the Braves buying at the deadline, winning the division, and eventually, winning the World Series. This was the Mets first chance to deliver a huge blow to the under .500 Braves, and instead, they let the Braves walk away with a split.
2. You can’t use Adam Ottavino for three straight games. That’s just an unforced error that helped lead to the Mets getting blown out.
3. Buck Showalter came into this season with a number of questions. Seeing how he burns Drew Smith for two innings instead of saving him for another day and used an injured Trevor May in a key spot, it would seem like he hasn’t improved in the slightest in this area.
5. If Bassitt wants to sign an extension, the Mets should sign him to one. This is a good pitcher who seems to like pitching here. You keep those guys.
6. The walks are starting to pile up with Megill. If he isn’t pounding the strike zone, he becomes vulnerable to the big inning. That is essentially what happened to him. Right now, this isn’t any cause for alarm.
7. All the metrics say Francisco Lindor is hitting the ball very well, but the results aren’t there. Put another way, it’s too soon to overreact, but it is something we need to monitor.
9. Eduardo Escobar went from pleasant surprise and leader to looking like the player the Mets shouldn’t have jumped the market to sign. His hard hit rates are cratering as is his defense.
10. Starting J.D. Davis over Dominic Smith, especially with a right-handed pitcher starting is just plain wrong. With extended playing time, Davis’ struggles with any sort of velocity and with pitches up in the zone are magnified.
11. For all the focus on the struggles of the bullpen, Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, and Smith have the final 2-3 innings locked down. Looking at that, building the rest of the bullpen is a much easier task until May returns from the IL.
12. It’s very interesting how May and Jacob deGrom were dealing with very similar injuries. What that says about the Mets is anyone’s guess.
13. The umpiring in this series was embarrassing. It helped cost one game with Dansby Swanson being ruled to have a double on a clear foul ball. Dom was called out on a pitch well out of the zone. Between this series and the Madison Bumgarner ejection in Arizona, the umpiring has been unacceptably poor this season. Really, you know it’s bad when Max Scherzer gets thrown out of a game when he’s not pitching.
14. The notion anything other than balls and strikes is not reviewable is ludicrous.
16. Players like Travis Jankowski and Guillorme deserve more respect. They fill their roles in perfectly and make this ball club infinitely better. Jankowski knows people won’t buy his jersey, but we will all cheer him on like he’s a superstar.
17. Carlos Carrasco has been amazing this season, and his eight innings not only helped the Mets pick up a win, but it also saved the bullpen.
18. Trevor Williams wasn’t great, but he took one for the team pitching 3.2 innings. Outings like this often get overlooked and under appreciated, but it is something which will really help the Mets in the long run. With May out, you do wonder if the Mets can give him more of a look out of the pen. After all, it’s not like they have other options.
19. The Showalter suspension was ridiculous, especially when you consider Stubby Clapp wasn’t suspended. You do wonder how much that impacted the Mets in the opener of the series, especially with Showalter being informed right before game time.
20. Alonso is heating up just when the Mets need his bat to carry this team. Hopefully, he can help carry the offense as they try to give the Philadelphia Phillies the knock out blow they failed to give the Braves.
After losing the opener of the four game set to the Atlanta Braves and playing their worst baseball of the season, the New York Mets had a doubleheaders scheduled. With maybe not as important in the grand scheme of things, the Mets actually needed to sweep that doubleheader to continue their streak of winning their eighth series to start the season.
They did just that.
In the first game, the Mets jumped all over Charlie Morton not giving him a chance. Now, this wasn’t the Mets hitting bombs, but rather, they kept making contact and putting it where they ain’t.
It all started with surprise lead-off hitter Travis Jankowski hitting an infield single. After the perfunctory HBP, this time it was Francisco Lindor, the Mets got RBI singles from Pete Alonso and Eduardo Escobar to jump out to the early 2-0 lead.
Jankowski would be great in this game. He was a huge part of the Mets offense taking part in all of the run scoring rallies. He was there again in the second drawing a one out walk after Luis Guillorme‘s leadoff walk. Lindor hit an RBI groundout to drive home Guillorme, and again, it would be an Alonso single driving home Jankowski.
In the fourth, Jankowski put on a show with his speed. After reaching on a fielder’s choice, he stole second, and then took third on Travis d’Arnaud‘s wild throw. That permitted him to score on a Mark Canha sacrifice fly. Really, as Jankowski explained properly, he does those things a winning teams need to do.
"No one's gonna be buying my jersey. But I still think there's a big part of what I bring to the table that is very important and very needed to winning teams and championship teams, and that's what we have in this clubhouse" – Travis Jankowski pic.twitter.com/LSkTFcJEVb
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 4, 2022
Right there, the Mets had five runs. It would barely be enough.
David Peterson got the call up for the start with the doubleheader. For four innings, he was really good allowing just one run. It would fall apart in the fifth, which is a shame because he should have been out of the inning.
After Travis Demeritte hit a lead-off single, Guillermo Heredia struck out, and Ozzie Albies hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play. However, Peterson booted it leading to everyone being safe. On the very next pitch, Matt Olson hit a three run homer to pull the Braves within one.
The thing is, that’s the last run the Braves would score in the doubleheader.
The Mets bullpen was awesome. Adam Ottavino struck out two in his scoreless inning. Drew Smith struck out two over his two innings. Finally, Edwin Diaz was unhittable yet again. With that, the Mets took the opener 5-4.
If you thought that pitching performance was impressive, you were in for a real treat with Carlos Carrasco in the second end.
After coming out of the gates red hot, Carrasco took a major step backwards in his last start. Given what happened last season, you could understand fans concerns. This start should have allayed all of those fears.
Ronald Acuna Jr. hit a lead-off double, which again gave rise to concerns of the first inning problems last year. Carrasco settled down to mow down the Braves and pitch the first of what was eight scoreless innings.
In doubleheaders, you need at least one starter to step up. When you don’t have that, you run the risk of absolutely burning out your bullpen. Carrasco being the first Mets starter to go eight innings was bigger than the start itself. He saved the Mets bullpen for the next day. This is what veteran leaders do.
After the second inning, Carrasco would allow just two more hits. He would put the Mets in line for a big win.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 4, 2022
After making the roster for good with the Robinson Cano DFA, Dominic Smith would get his first start since his 4-for-4 game. He picked right up where he left off hitting a two run double in his first at-bat to give the Mets an early 2-0 lead.
With respect to Dom, it is important to note just how horrid the umpiring was in these games and overall. For example, when Peterson allowed his first run of the game in the first end of the doubleheader, the ball that was hit was clearly foul. However, due to inane MLB replay rules, it was not reviewable.
That was definitely a foul ball. pic.twitter.com/D69swJvbSy
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) May 3, 2022
With respect to Smith, one of his issues this season has been horrendous strike calls against him. We saw it again in the sixth with Smith striking out on a pitch that was a foot off of the plate.
When the umpiring is so bad you get tossed on your day off.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) May 4, 2022
This call was too much for everyone to take. In fact, after seeing this strike call, and really, the umpiring so far in this series, Max Scherzer would actually get ejected for arguing balls and strikes. This was actually the second time in his career he was ejected with both times coming in games he didn’t pitch.
The Mets would wind up winning this game 3-0. The second run came on a monster Alonso home run to the opposite field. Alonso has been shooting that way all year, and now, he has a big homer out there:
Pete crushed this one. 💪
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 4, 2022
This was a big day for Alonso. Between the two games, he was 4-for-8 with a homer and three RBI. This is the type of hitter we have seen him be, and this is the type of hitter who can carry the Mets offense like he did in these two games.
After Seth Lugo pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save of the season, the Mets completed the doubleheader sweep. That was with the help of six scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Overall, this was not the Mets who have struggled against the Braves. This is a Mets team ready to make a statement. They did in this game and have a chance to win an eighth straight series to start the season and let the Braves know this division belongs to the Mets.
We’ve seen this story time and again. It’s just something about those wretched Atlanta Braves uniforms. The New York Mets are going great, and then, it stops abruptly.
Seriously, the Mets had more bad luck and miscues than they had the previous 33 games combined.
You knew something was off in the first. Brandon Nimmo was on second with no outs. Francisco Lindor hit a ball center fielder Adam Duvall caught while pedaling backwards. Nimmo has a mind cramp not tagging and going for third, and he knew it almost immediately.
It’s notable neither player scored. You could argue they weren’t scoring anyway. That said, it just spoke to how the Mets were just slightly off.
It’s one of the reasons the Mets blew a lead and lost this game. The other was just bad luck.
Heading into the sixth, the Mets had a 2-1 lead. The first run came pure courtesy of Starling Marte‘s speed.
Marte hit a one out double against Braves starter Max Fried, and he advanced to third on a McNeil flyout. That put him in position to score on a wild pitch.
It’s noteworthy Travis d’Arnaud was under assault all night. Braves pitchers were very wild spiking a number of pitches in the dirt. All night, it seemed like Marte was the only one who took advantage.
That lead grew to 2-0 in the third when Mark Canha hit his first homer with the Mets:
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 3, 2022
In between innings, Chad Fairchild owned up to Chris Bassitt for missing a strike call on Dansby Swanson pic.twitter.com/yPWhnSgymx
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 3, 2022
What’s difficult to know is how much that blown strike call impacted the rest of the game. Bassitt had to expend energy facing two more batters he didn’t need to face.
Then again, Bassitt was not hit hard. Really, in the sixth, he was dinked and dunked to death.
There were runners on first and second with one out when d’Arnaud hit one a foot off the plate which dropped perfectly on the line for an RBI double tying the score.
Duvall hit a ball to medium right center. Nimmo had no momentum on the throw whereas Marte could’ve thereby allowing a better throw to home. That said, Pete Alonso made a good cut getting the last out at third.
It was 3-2 Braves, but this isn’t where they won the game. That would be the seventh. They had that chance partially because Nimmo absolutely robbed Ronald Acuna in the top of the inning.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 3, 2022
After two quick outs, the Mets loaded the bases leading to the Braves going to Collin McHugh. Canha, the Mets best hitter with RISP, watched two go over the middle of the plate before striking out.
The Mets went to Trevor May, who had struggled all year. This was another example even if it was purely bad luck.
He issued a lead-off walk to Matt Olson, but he’d get two quick outs. Then, Ozzie Albies hit an infield single. May would then throw a pitch up and in on d’Arnaud. Somehow, d’Arnaud muscled it for a two RBI double.
This was another example of d’Arnaud being a Mets killer. Since that flat out dumb DFA, d’Arnaud has absolutely worn out the Mets.
Travis d'Arnaud is now 15-for-32 in his career against the Mets.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) May 3, 2022
d’Arnaud accounted for three of the five RBI against the Mets in the Braves 5-2 win. He did it hitting doubles on pitches he shouldn’t have even made contact.
The Mets chances to get a rally started in the ninth were ended before they got started. After Marte hit a one out single, Brian O’Nora made an atrocious check swing call on Jeff McNeil ringing him up.
That’s just the way it goes with the Mets and Braves. The Mets just find ways to lose their edge, and they suffer bad luck leading to them letting games slip through their fingers. Hopefully, these Mets don’t let history repeat itself.
Game Notes: Right before the game, Buck Showalter was advised he and Yoan Lopez were suspended for one game due to the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies. After a four hit night, Dominic Smith did not start. With the left-handed pitcher, J.D. Davis started. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
During Spring Training, Buck Showalter has made it a point to bring Keith Hernandez down to the field. In fact, as reported by Bob Klapisch of nj.com, Showalter removed the old rule which banned Hernandez from the batting cages. Showalter made it a point to get rid of the dumb rule (which was explained away because Hernandez was a part of SNY).
Specifically, Showalter noted, “I wanted people to notice Keith next to me and it wasn’t by coincidence. To me, Keith Hernandez is Mets royalty. He can go wherever he wants around here. This is his team.”
Showalter is exactly right here. After all, Hernandez was the first captain in team history. That 1986 team constantly talks about how much Hernandez meant to that team in terms of his leadership and defense. To keep that away from the team is pure and utter Wilpon nonsense. Well, the Wilpons are gone and so is much of their stupidity.
This was something Bobby Valentine had done so well during his Mets tenure. We didn’t just see the Mets greats pass through Spring Training for a photo op and media attention. That is something we will see this Spring with Mike Piazza, Al Leiter, David Wright, and others passing through and working with the players for a day or so.
Valentine had taken it a step further than that. Valentine put Mookie Wilson on his coaching staff. We also saw it with him having Al Jackson, an original Met just inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, on his coaching staff. There many be many reasons why Valentine did that, and it could very well be because Davey Johnson once did the same thing with him and Bud Harrelson on the Mets coaching staff.
Being a Met is different than being a part of any other team. It’s being the big market target while sitting in the shadow of the Yankees. It’s having a fan base who clings to Tug McGraw‘s “Ya Gotta Believe!” who also expects Tom Glavine to implode completing the collapse. We know Gary Carter is going to start an improbable rally while fully expecting Lucas Duda to throw it nowhere near Travis d’Arnaud.
The Mets are the most unique team in all of sports, and they have the fanbase to match. Each and every player who has come through here fully understands it. After all, Carlos Beltran went from reviled while playing here to a standing ovation at the All Star Game wearing the enemy St. Louis Cardinals uniform and fans who cheered him as a conquering hero when he was brought back as the manager.
Valentine knew all of this, and he had a coaching staff reflect that. Showalter seems to get that as well, and he wants the former Mets to be a part of this team both in Spring Training and beyond. He understands the team history, and in the end, Showalter just implicitly gets it.
When the Mets have a manager who gets what being a New York Met is all about, magic happens. We saw it in 1986 and 1999. Mookie brought home Ray Knight. Robin Ventura hit a grand slam single. Seeing how Showalter is managing this team, Mets fans should be ready to see what is coming next.
When Bob Geren left the pennant winning New York Mets for the Los Angeles Dodgers, it seemed like that was the last we’d see of him. After all, Geren made a lateral move to be closer to his family.
If Geren is willing to return to New York for the managerial job, that’s very good news for the Mets.
Geren, 60, had a very positive influence when he was last on the Mets bench. He was the analytically driven and versed coach who served as the confident and counter-balance to Terry Collins.
Geren’s positive impact went beyond just aiding with decision making. He had a very strong impact on making their catchers vastly improved.
Geren continued this work in Los Angeles. He did it with both Yasmani Grandal and Will Smith. Unlike most of the managerial candidates, with Geren you have something tangible to point to as to how he improves a team.
Part and parcel with that is his ability to communicate. While it was a purported issue in Oakland, Anthony Recker indicated it hasn’t been one since, and he’s one of the reasons he’s advocating Geren for the job:
Guy has been to the World Series FOUR times starting with the 2015 team here with the METS thru last year! He’s been a part of the Dodgers Org that has blended analytics and baseball experience/knowledge as well as anyone! GET THIS MAN! https://t.co/QHmgtYe2QM
— Anthony Recker (@Anthony_Recker) December 7, 2021
In many ways, Recker states the case succinctly. Not only can Geren communicate and coach, but he knows better than most how to use analytics.
There’s a reason smart teams want him. Billy Beane chose him to manage. After that stint ended, Sandy Alderson with his vaunted front office moved quick to hire him. The Los Angeles Dodgers poached him away from the Mets.
Really, Geren understands this job better than anyone the Mets will interview. He knows the amount of input Alderson wants and the wriggle room, if any, a manager gets.
Geren understands the New York media and all the duties of a Mets manager. He knows what it’s like to lose and win with the Mets. In many ways, he checks all of the boxes of what the Mets covet in a manager.
With all that said, Geren likely isn’t the front-runner. Where he ranks is anyone’s guess. That said, if the Mets were to hire him, they would be getting someone who understands how to succeed in this job better than anyone.
The 2015 World Series wasn’t particularly kind to Travis d’Arnaud. The Kansas City Royals were 6/6 in stolen base attempts in that series, and he’d hit .143.
As rough as that series was, things actually would get worse for d’Arnaud with the Mets. The expectation was he’d take his career to the next level in 2016.
Instead, d’Arnaud injured his rotator cuff and struggled. That was basically the story of his Mets career. We’d see him show flashes, get hurt, and then struggle. It was frustrating to watch even if the overall production was good.
The final straw for the Mets was in 2019. After being rushed back from Tommy John, d’Arnaud had just about the worst game a catcher has ever had in baseball history. The end result was Jeff Wilpon and Brodie Van Wagenen rage cutting him.
As is usually the case, getting as far away from the Wilpons is the best thing for your career. We’d see d’Arnaud get healthy and eventually land with the Tampa Bay Rays.
d’Arnaud was great with the Rays, and it led to his signing with the Atlanta Braves. He’s had a strong run there, and now, d’Arnaud is a World Series champion.
It’s a reminder of just how poorly things were run before the Wilpons sold the team. It’s also a reminder the Mets need to better cultivate their own talent. The Mets need to not be the Mets.
With respect to d’Arnaud, he did well with the Mets. He just never reached his full potential. He had to leave the Mets for that to happen. He had to leave to get a ring.
Travis d’Arnaud is a World Series champion. He’s a good catcher having a good career. Congratulations to him.
The New York Mets have been an injury a minute, and somehow, they went to Atlanta and took two out of three from the Braves:
1. If Tomas Nido keeps this up, the discussion may shift from whether he should be the everyday catcher to whether he’s one of the best catchers in the game.
2. Khalil Lee can keep striking out if he is going to continue to make outstanding game saving catches in right field.
3. Kudos to Edwin Diaz to taking that significant step in his career where you can rely on him on consecutive days.
4. The front office people who told Diaz to put on more weight deserves a raise. The same goes to Jeremy Hefner, who is getting all you can out of Diaz and the entire bullpen.
5. The same goes for the people designing the Mets shifts. They’re shifting nearly more than everyone, and they’re doing it better than almost everyone.
6. Seeing how the Mets played this series and the improvements he seems to be making, Luis Rojas should be getting more credit than he is.
7. Jonathan Villar is a guy with poor numbers across the board, and yet, he just finds a way to have an impact in nearly every game.
9. Pillar certainly made himself more fans with his play and his talking about how it’s breaking his heart he can’t be out there when his team needs him.
10. That should serve as a reminder we shouldn’t be rushing to judgment to players after a week. Remember, there were plenty of very vocal fans who were convinced Pillar would do nothing this year.
11. It’s not hyperbole to say the Mets play a game and someone else turns up injured. It’s so bad we find out Pete Alonso suddenly has a wrist issue and can’t play.
12. It looks like Dominic Smith could supplant Alonso as the first baseman for now. Hopefully, that helps get him going.
14. There’s joy, and then there’s Tommy Hunter, a 14 year MLB veteran, getting his first career hit.
15. Good job by the Chicago Cubs honoring their commitment to Cameron Maybin by trading him to the Mets for $1.
16. It wasn’t that long ago Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon didn’t honor their agreement to Devin Mesoraco. That led to Mesoraco retuning, rushing to activate Travis d’Arnaud, and then rage cutting d’Arnaud.
17. If you’re looking for a comp for David Peterson, it’s Mike Pelfrey. Both were sinkerball first rounders rushed to the majors from Double-A, and the team didn’t let them go back and develop after the initial panic call-up.
18. If you’re even being competitive with a Maybin-Johneshwy Fargas-Lee outfield, you’re doing something right. Seriously, what the Mets did in this series was beyond impressive.
19. Think of everything that has gone wrong with this team. They’re still over .500 and in first place.
20. Sometimes teams just have one of those special seasons. So far, this is shaping up to be one of them.
Due to the rain-out yesterday, the New York Mets split a series against the Miami Marlins. There was a lot which happened in the span of those three days, which is just an indication of just how bizarre the start to this season has been:
1. Not calling a game which had zero chance of ever getting played was a very Wilpon like decision. Hopefully, this is something that we will not see happen again.
2. Whenever there is a threat of rain, teams should just use an opener. It is not worth wasting a pitcher’s turn through the rotation in the hopes of a game being played. Instead of getting someone like Robert Gsellman some work, the Mets are going to have to wait until Friday to see Marcus Stroman again.
3. Aside from David Peterson, the Mets starting pitching has been quite good this season. The best surprise might’ve been Taijuan Walker who looked like the pitcher many thought he would be when he was once a top 10 prospect in the game.
6. The umpires completely blew it when ruling Michael Conforto was hit by the pitch to force in the game winning run. The fact replay can’t fix that error is a failure of the system.
7. Just when you thought that was bad, on Sunday Night Baseball, Alec Bohm never touched home plate, was ruled safe, and the call was somehow upheld on replay. What is the point of the system when you can’t get obviously blown calls corrected?
8. By the way, Travis d’Arnaud did an amazing job receiving that throw and blocking the plate. There really is no one better in the game than him at doing that, and it is also notable the Mets have spent a ton of money on catchers who are no better than him.
9. These two plays are reminiscent of when Chase Utley went out of the baseline, tackled Ruben Tejada, never touched the bag, and was ruled safe on replay and awarded second base. By the way, the manager who asked for that review and wound up winning partially because of that absurdity was Don Mattingly, so he can save us from listening to his whining.
10. The booing of Conforto was ridiculous. Yes, he had a really bad four game stretch as all players are going to have during the course of the season. You would just think a player of his stature who has been a good Met for this long would have a longer leash than four games.
11. Dropping Conforto in the line-up was a pure panic decision. It’s not like he’s the only Mets player not hitting. For example, there was no booing of Pete Alonso despite his being hitless over his last 11 at-bats, and no one wants him dropped in the order. Remember, Conforto was great last year whereas Alonso comparatively struggled.
12. No, this is not a call to boo Alonso. It is also not a call to boo McNeil who has one hit this year. The same goes for James McCann and Francisco Lindor who have matching .176 batting averages with no extra base hits. It is was too soon to boo any of these players.
13. Conforto is eventually going to break out of his slump due to the ebbs and flows of the baseball season. His being dropped to fifth, sixth, or even seventh in the order will have nothing to do with hit.
14. If this was about rewarding the best hitters, Luis Guillorme would be playing everyday. That goes double when you consider J.D. Davis hit the IL. Guillorme is literally hitting .500 in his limited playing opportunities.
15. Brandon Nimmo has been phenomenal to start the season. He has flat out been the Mets best player with a 223 OPS+ and a 1 OAA in center. He’s been locked in to start the season. Yes, it is too soon to talk All-Star or even MVP consideration, but he looks like he’s poised to have a great year.
16. Of course, no one is better than Jacob deGrom. On the season, he has allowed one run over 14.0 innings while striking out 21. We are running out of words to describe how great he is.
17. We’re also running out of ways to describe just how terrible the lack of run support he receives is. It is beyond a joke deGrom is 0-1 to start the year. It’s really difficult to pinpoint the reason, but there is no rational explanation why this keeps happening.
18. Congrats to Joe Musgrove for throwing the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history. Doing that for the team you grew up rooting for is like Mike Baxter making the no-hitter saving catch for Johan Santana‘s. On that topic, Anthony DiComo certainly showed his true colors.
19. People need to stop this over the top criticism of Luis Rojas. We are five games into a disjointed season with COVID cancellations and front office blown decisions on a rain delay. Like all managers, he is not the one setting the lineup or deciding whether or not to play the games. He is working with the front office on these decisions, including scripting out how long the starters go and which relievers pitch. He’s just the face and fall guy for many of these decisions.
Thanks to the Washington Nationals, we can’t watch New York Mets baseball just yet. What we could do was see former Mets pitchers in action.
Matt Harvey took the ball for the Baltimore Orioles, and he looked good. His slider was moving, and he touched 95 MPH. Unfortunately, he fell one-third of an inning short of the win.
Matt Harvey, 94mph Fastball…and gets the fist pump from Severino. pic.twitter.com/A7rSeI92sG
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 3, 2021
Zack Wheeler took the ball for the Philadelphia Phillies, and he’d have more hits himself than he allowed. He was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.
Zack Wheeler was rollin'. pic.twitter.com/hdXs1mqI3k
— MLB (@MLB) April 3, 2021
On the mound, he struck out 10 over 7.0 innings with the only hit against him coming from Travis d’Arnaud.
All-in-all, it was a pretty good day for former Mets pitchers. Hopefully, that momentum for Mets pitchers will confine when the Mets are finally able to start their season on Monday.
Back on August 16, 2017, the New York Mets faced a rash of injuries. Instead of postponing the game, Travis d’Arnaud, a catcher, rotated with Asdrubal Cabrera between second and third all game long. The reason that happened is Major League Baseball does not cancel games when teams face injuries.
At times, this leads to tough and frankly bad decisions. A classic example was when the New York Mets took a risk by designating Darren O’Day so Nelson Figueroa could make a start. That led to O’Day getting claimed by the Texas Rangers. O’Day is still pitching now whereas Figueroa last pitched in the majors two years after this decision, and he had a full career arc as the Mets postgame analyst.
Point is, teams are forced to play through injuries. Baseball is unforgiving that way. However, when it comes to COVID teams are not forced to play. Sure, the Miami Marlins played with COVID last year, and Don Mattingly was rewarded for putting the entire season in jeopardy by naming him the National League Manager of the Year, but that is another story for another day.
On the eve of Opening Day, there was a Washington Nationals player who tested positive for COVID, and through contact tracing, an additional four Nationals players were put into quarantine. Since that first test, four other Nationals players have tested positive, and the Opening Day game between the Mets and and the Nationals has been postponed indefinitely.
Again, if there were five Mets players injured and unavailable on Opening Day, the Mets would have been forced to play the game. They would have been put in the position over whether they call up players or roll with the players they had available. Understandably, COVID is different than a torn hamstring, but not really in terms of player availability.
Because of COVID concerns, Major League Baseball has allowed teams to carry a taxi squad of five players with them on road trips. When not on road trips, those players are at the team’s alternate site. Put another way, Major League teams are supposed to have five players ready to be called up to play at a moment’s notice if there is a COVID issue. Coincidentally, that number coincides with the amount of players the Nationals had out.
Now, there are reports Max Scherzer, the Opening Day starter, was away from the team. So, we know he was available. Past him, we really don’t have any idea who could or could not play. On a related note, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said their entire team is in quarantine. Again, while there are reports both teams could play on Saturday, in reality, if the entire Nationals team is in quarantine, there is really no knowing when they will be able to play.
That puts the Mets at a significant disadvantage to start their season. The Mets were setting their rotation where they did not have to use a fifth starter early on in the season. That helped alleviate the loss of Carlos Carrasco, and it did give them a preview of Joey Lucchesi, who may be destined for the bullpen once Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard are ready to return. Again, this was the Mets plan, but now, they can’t execute their plan because the Nationals players got infected with COVID at a time when none of the other 29 teams had any issues.
The answer can’t be for the Mets and Nationals to cancel an entire series. This would have the Mets dormant for half a week before they have to travel to play a Phillies team who has already been playing. This is how you create injuries and problems. Again, if the Mets suffer injuries as a result of this, no one is postponing their games until that players is healthy.
Really, Major League Baseball has to have a better answer than to shut down a healthy team abiding by COVID protocols. The Nationals should be forced to call up their Triple-A team to play if that what is necessary. On that note, there is no Triple-A baseball until May. These are games on the schedule, and the weather is permitting them to play.
Instead, the Mets are going to have to scrap their plans for the rotation, be forced to play cold against teams already warmed up, and they are going to have to force games in later in the season when we are already concerned about pitchers being able to sustain the 2021 season after the 2020 shortened season.
This is ridiculous, and Major League Baseball has to have a better response than postponing games and kicking the rock down the road. Of course, they don’t, so they are going to put the Mets in a precarious position now and in the future. And we know if anyone gets injured as a result of this recklessness, the Mets will play that game even if it means someone playing out of position the way d’Arnaud once did.