The Mets, like any team, have injuries to deal with, and they’ll continue to pile up as the season wears on. But we’re talking key ones here…
Imagine the Mets manager, Luis Rojas, sitting down in his office in an hour to draw up his lineup for the opener tonight against the San Diego Padres.
His starting pitcher is set, and he can draw comfort in knowing the best pitcher on this planet; Jacob deGrom will be out there for the Mets, but after that, his head begins to throb.
He sees Brandon Nimmo’s name, and he says, let’s put him in the leadoff spot. Nope, he can do that, and he’s injured.
Ah, Jeff McNeil, perfect for hitting second. Nope, I can’t do that either because he’s on the IL too.
You’re don’t have a spell on you, Luis, but you do have a Mets team that has been, and continues to be, victimized by injuries to key players this year.
The pitching continues to be outstanding, and the Bench Mob has received notoriety for all the right reasons – but how much longer can the Mets hold on to the NL East lead, and more significantly can they hold off the charging Braves, or for that matter, the Joe Girardi led Phillies?
Mets: Doing It With Smoke And Mirrors – Not Really
To say the Mets have been doing it with smoke and mirrors is too harsh, but at some point (soon), the Mets need to gather themselves at full strength.
McNeill, Conforto, and the rest will do their due diligence at the Mets Triple-A club in Syracuse, New York, but it’s a stretch to think they’ll blast into the Mets lineup at full speed when they return.
With no firm timeline in place for anyone except Jeff O’Neil to return and June rapidly becoming July, the remaining two months of the season (for them) is like April and May, or worse, like Spring Training to get their timing at the plate back.
This is to say the challenge facing the Mets is not over on the day Luis Rojas fills out a lineup card with the originally projected players all in – instead, it simply begins another phase in a super-charged and challenging Mets season.
So far, the Mets have been fortunate to have teams below them fighting even to reach the .500 mark, thus protecting the 3.5 game lead they have in the division. While it’s too early to begin scoreboard watching, the distance between the Mets, the Braves, and the Phillies remains narrow.
The good news, of course, is the Mets have a talented and productive core of hungry players who know they are on the bubble and likely to be sent down as each of the regulars return, and the 26-man roster fills itself out.
But to keep their motivation high in the interim, they also know that their “audition” now makes them attractive to other teams, raising the chance they could be traded to a team where they can play regularly, with the bonus of having their career taking off.
As we look down the Mets Active Roster today, we see players of this type that include Brandon Drury, Luis Guillorme, Jose Peraza, Tomas Nido, Mason Williams, Jonathan Villar, Kevin Pillar, and Billy McKinney – all of whom have made significant contributions to the Mets this season.
Mets: The Party Is Bound To End – Unless…
If I may answer my own question from the title (you knew I would), yes, the Mets can keep winning, but only up to and through the regular season’s end, with their currently constructed team.
But a whole “new ballgame” arrives once the second season begins in October because the Bench Mob cannot compete against the Cubs, Padres, Giants, or Dodgers in limited do-or-die playoff series.
Let the good times keep rolling – and they will – but the Mets need to be whole and running at full speed by the end of September.
Otherwise, they’ll (indeed) be forced to do it with smoke and mirrors…
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Jim Russell Obviously, it will depend on any MORE injuries. It is by no means a stretch to look at Villar, Pillar, and even Peraza as legitimate everyday players, but that is where it ends. Success should continue if those three or the guys they replaced stay on the field.
Ricardo Pita They got McNeil and Conforto coming back in the next 2 weeks. That’s all their big guns back in the lineup a good rotation, strong bullpen and the second-ranked defense in the majors they will be fine Author’s Note: I’d be pleasantly surprised if Conforto is back by then.
Sean Lydon As long as it takes!!
Regretfully, I’m closing off published comments for this post. Keep ‘em coming though – after all – that’s what this is all about.