Nothing about this Opening Day was as the New York Mets expected. It was delayed by the lockout, and then, it was pushed back to 7:05 only to be rain delayed to 8:21.
Maybe things are different with Buck Showalter, and maybe this is just the Mets Opening Day mojo. Whatever it was, it worked.
It all started with Megill. He was amped throwing 99 MPH in the first, and he was pacing the dugout like Max Scherzer. He had the results to back that up.
In his five shutout innings, Megill easily dealt with the little adversity he faced.
In the second, after a one out double by Keibert Ruiz, Francisco Lindor made an error putting runners on first and second with one out. Megill got out of it by getting Mets killer Maikel Franco (he would have five unassisted put outs at third) to hit into an inning ending double play.
Megill needed to keep the Mets off the board because Patrick Corbin was keeping the Mets off the board for the first four innings despite not really having anything.
Then, the Mets first rally of the season started with Cano getting a bunt base hit against the shift. Canha walked, and McNeil singled loaded the bases with no outs.
In 2021, this was a death knell for the Mets. Those concerns were abated when James McCann was hit with a pitch giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.
1st time in Mets history that their first run of the season scored on an Opening Day HBP
— Mark Simon (@MarkASimonSays) April 8, 2022
Starling Marte followed with what could’ve been an inning ending 5-5-3 double play, but Franco’s throw to first was wide giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.
At that point, Victor Arano was in for Corbin. With J.D. Davis getting the start at DH because he kills Corbin, everyone, including GKR wondered why Dominic Smith wasn’t pinch hitting. We all wondered why all the more when Davis hit into the inning ending double play.
In the sixth, Alonso had a one out single, and Cano had a two out walk. Finally, Canha delivered the Mets first RBI hit with a single giving the Mets a 3-0 lead.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 8, 2022
McNeill followed him with a two out RBI single of his own. For McNeil, it was a return to what we saw from him before his down 2021 season. He was 2-for-4 with an RBI and strikeout.
The Nationals got one back in the sixth when Trevor May yielded a bomb to Soto. The Mets got that run back in the top of the seventh on a Lindor RBI single.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 8, 2022
This is a game where nearly everyone contributed. That included Travis Jankowski who pinch ran and stayed on to play center moving McNeil back to second. Jankowski had pinch ran for Cano who was 2-for-3 with two runs and a walk. McCann was the only Mets starter without a hit, but he was hit by pitches twice.
#Mets catchers to be hit by a pitch twice in one game:
**James McCann, tonight
John Buck, 7/22/13
Josh Thole, 7/30/11
**Gary Carter, 4/9/85
** = Opening Day
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) April 8, 2022
Overall, this is Mets Opening Day baseball. They win, and they tend to dominate with Megill being the fourth straight Opening Day starter to not allow a run.
Game Notes: Megill had the fewest career innings of any Mets Opening Day starter. Scherzer was the first Met introduced to a warm ovation from Nationals fans. With Marte wearing 6, McNeill switched to 1. Alonso was lifted in the ninth after getting hit by a pitch in the shoulder which ricocheted off his mouth.
Well, it didnt’ take long for the New York Mets depth to be tested. Jacob deGrom is out for about half of the season with a stress reaction in his right scapula. Max Scherzer has a hamstring issue. Taijuan Walker has issues with his surgically repaired knee. Brandon Nimmo needs cortisone shots in the neck he injured last season.
Buck Showalter is talking about the Opening Day starter being one of Tylor Megill, David Peterson, or Trevor Williams. Travis Jankowski, Peterson, and Nick Plummer have been put on the taxi squad awaiting the call-up. Without even playing a game, this is far from the situation the Mets thought they would be.
However, this does underscore the job the Mets did this offseason to address their overall depth.
In years past, at least one of Megill or Peterson (;ikely both) would have been guaranteed a rotation spot, and Williams would have been non-tendered. Instead, all three are there to provide innings if needed. More than that, the team still has Jose Butto in the minors. There is depth here allowing the Mets to throw credible Major League starters even in the absence of at least three starting pitchers.
In terms of the outfield, the depth is there to sustain a Nimmo injury. The question is whether the Mets do what needs to be done on that front.
In all honesty, the Mets fourth best outfielder is Jeff McNeil. If Nimmo’s injury is serious enough to necessitate an IL stint, McNeil should shift out to left field allowing the team to see just how much Robinson Cano has in the tank. In some ways, this would be the best test for the team to see what Cano can actually provide to this team.
However, in all likelihood, they will play Dominic Smith in left. On one hand, this underscores just how much the Mets needed Smith and why they were smart not to trade him. On the other hand, Smith isn’t a good left fielder underscoring why the Mets should go out and re-sign Michael Conforto.
Whatever the case, the Mets have versatile players, and they have credible Major League players to plug into the lineup even without 3/5 of their rotation and their starting center fielder. This underscores the good work the team did in the offseason. However, the proof is in the pudding, and we won’t find out just how good of a job the Mets did until we see how it translates on the field.