All was breaking perfect for the Mets when they finished their three-game series with the Cubs. After Wednesday’s thrilling come-from-behind 9-4 victory, the Mets were riding high. Yes, the had to deal with injuries to Neil Walker and Matt Harvey, but what would a day be without a player going down with an injury?
The Mets had cut a 12.5 game deficit down to 8.5 games with the first place Nationals coming into Citifield. Knowing that they had to take at least 3 of 4 to officially get back into the NL East race, the Mets had all they needed to stand up and make their push.
However, the worst the Mets could have imagined – as it usually has since Game 7 of the 1986 World Series – has taken place the first two games against the Nationals.
Trailing 2-1 in the top of the 5th on Thursday, the Mets season spiraled out of control. The teams hottest player and best OF, Juan Lagares (was hitting .407 with 6 RBI in his previous 8 games), injured his thumb diving for a ball off the bat of Anthony Rendon. When the inning was over the Mets were trailing 7-1 and on their way to a loss.
On Friday after leaving runners on base in the first two innings against Max Scherzer, Steven Matz then fell victim to the long ball in the top of the 3rd, as Matt Wieters (Nats are a MLB-best 36-13 in games he starts) and Michael Taylor went deep. From there Scherzer did was he always does to the Mets at Citifield, striking out 10 while only allowing 1 run in 8 innings as the Nats won 7-2.
Max Scherzer at Citi Field – Since Joining Nationals in 2015
K per 9 IP 12.9
So…Where do the Mets go from here?
It’s becoming more and more obvious that this season just isn’t going to work out for the Mets. While the National League is weak overall, a path to the postseason isn’t in the cards. Along with being behind the Nationals by double-digits, they are also 11 GB of the teams in the NL West that currently lead the Wild Card (Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Rockies). At this point expecting the Mets to turn their season around and play .750 baseball (which they would have to do considering the current pace of the other teams) is totally unrealistic.
Build for the Future
While the current Mets rotation was supposed to be near the top of the league when the season started, nothing has worked out like it was supposed to. Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Robert Gsellman have all been inconsistent. Noah Syndergaard, Julio Lugo and Steven Matz have made a combined eight starts, with Syndergaard not coming back til mid-August at the earliest. Despite being the teams most consistent starter, Zack Wheeler has an innings limit (2.41 ERA in previous 7 starts before last start on June 13). Closer Jeurys Familia is out until at least late-August with a clot in his pitching shoulder.
The Mets minor leagues have a few top-notch pitching prospects that aren’t far from being ready. P.J. Conlon (5-5, 3.30 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) and Corey Oswalt (4-3, 2.41 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) have done very well at Double-AA. Merendy Gonzalez (8-1, 1.55 ERA, 0.91 WHIP) and Jordan Humphreys (10-1, 1.41 ERA, 0.72 WHIP) have dominated at Low-A. Marcus Molina (2-3, 1.26 ERA, 0.77 WHIP) has been excellent at high-A since coming back from Tommy John surgery. Thomas Szapucki (5-3, 2.37 ERA, 13.2 K per 9 in 14 minor league games) is just coming back from an injury and is the organizations top LHP prospect.
Why I mention these prospects, is to show that the Mets could move a few pitchers at the deadline knowing they have resources coming in the minors. If the price is right and the Mets can get back a bevy of talented prospects, deGrom, Harvey (if anyone wants him) and Matz (a major risk despite his talent because of his injury history) should all be considered available.
Make Everyday Vets Available
Looking at the Mets lineup, it’s no secret that they have a few older players that would fit in nicely as extras for contending teams. Curtis Granderson (a remarkable clubhouse leader as well), Jay Bruce, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes, Lucas Duda and Rene Rivera should all be considered on the block if other teams come calling. All those players have little use to the Mets beyond this season.
The time is now for Sandy Alderson’s number of first round picks to prove either they can or can’t play in the big leagues. Brandon Nimmo (2011), Gavin Cecchini (2012) Kevin Plawecki (2012) and Dominic Smith (2013) were all first round selections under Alderson that have yet to get consistent playing time. If the Mets aren’t going to contend this season, then these players should get a chance to see if they can be part of the Mets future. Other players like T.J. Rivera, Matt Reynolds, and Travis Taijeron have put in their time in the minors and deserve a chance to prove if they can be part of this teams future as well.
The Mets still have two more games with the Nationals this weekend. If they fail to win both, its time to start thinking about next season.
This story was originally posted at rivalry-network.com.