On Monday the Mets lost their third straight game, a 3-2 loss against the hapless Rockies at Citi Field. Their record fell to 21-20 as they become the last team in baseball to reach the quarter-season checkpoint.
During that game on Monday night, the backup to the backup to the backup centerfielder, Johneshwy Fargas, crashed into the wall trying to make a catch. He remained in the game for a half-inning before being removed. The injury to Fargas came at a time when the Mets could ill afford it as they currently have 16 players on their Injured List. Yes, that’s right, sixteen. If Fargas has to go on the injured list – Jon Morosi reported he likely will – the Mets do not have a single position player on their 40-Man roster that they can replace him with. Every position player on their 40-Man is either on the IL or on the major league roster.
Despite all of this, the Mets are in first place. They sit 1 game ahead of the Braves and Marlins for first place. The division is crowded and no team trails the Mets by more than 2.0 games. Even with all of the injures the Mets have sustained to their core players, the Mets have been in large part an exciting team to watch so far this year. The offensive numbers are down, particularly the long ball; they have only hit 32 homers and are last in baseball with a .341 Slugging Percentage. But the team has been finding a way to win games. They are doing it on the backs of youngsters delivering clutch hits, like Fargas, Khalil Lee, and Jake Hager. They are doing it with stellar pitching, particularly from the bullpen of late. Edwin Díaz is perfect in save opportunities. Jeurys Familia, Trevor May, and Miguel Castro have all been fantastic. Drew Smith has looked good in his return to action. The top arms in the Mets bullpen have answered the call of late when their starting pitching was at its thinnest. The opener has been deployed by the Mets more often than in the past, and it has been largely successful with relievers like Tommy Hunter, Castro, and Smith getting called upon.
The Mets are even playing good defense! They are fourth in baseball in Defensive Runs Saved. This is largely in part to their new and improved analytics department – the Mets are shifting 55.9 % of the time, second-most in baseball behind the Dodgers – and it’s paying off too. They are tied for first in baseball in Shift Runs Saved with 12. The addition of Francisco Lindor up the middle has certainly helped, and many of the Mets’ injury replacements are probably better defenders than their leads, so it will be interesting to see if this trend continues when the Mets get healthy.
As far as those injuries go: JD Davis is the only position player that is expected back this week, and the Mets hope Pete Alonso can make his return from a wrist injury early next week, but other than that, the reinforcements don’t appear to be coming any time soon. Jacob deGrom is making his return on Tuesday vs. the Rockies, but Taijuan Walker, Seth Lugo, Carlos Carrasco, and Noah Syndergaard are all expected to be sidelined until at least early June. Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil suffered hamstring injuries in the same game, and they are both expected to be sidelined until late June. Additionally, the Mets are unsure of when Kevin Pillar and Brandon Nimmo will return.
The Mets may need to make some additions this week to supplement their Major League (or minor league) roster. They could look into acquiring Adam Frazier from the Pirates who is off to a hot start, but a league-average hitter over his career (99 OPS+). Or perhaps they look to make a bigger splash and look to acquire someone like Mitch Haniger from the Mariners, Robbie Grossman from the Tigers, or David Peralta from the Diamondbacks. The Mets would be trading from a position of desperation, however, so they may not hear an offer they feel comfortable taking. There are a couple of free agents that could be worth considering. Dee Strange-Gordon is still unsigned after his tenure in Seattle ended last year. He is not a great hitter (career 89 OPS+) but would provide some speed and a competent glove at multiple positions. Yasiel Puig hasn’t played since 2019 but is currently the right fielder for El Águila de Veracruz of the Mexican Baseball League. He could be an interesting candidate considering he has posted a 121 OPS+ over his career, but his off-the-field issues are concerning (to say the least). The Mets may decide to stay put and just hope to tread water waiting for their starters to return, but it sure seems like GM Zack Scott has to make some moves. Of course, there is always Yoenis Céspedes.
Equally as troubling as the injuries is the performance of the Mets players that are healthy. Lindor has a 69 wRC+, Dominic Smith has a 70wRC+, James McCann has a 58wRC+; Tomas Nido is the only healthy position player with a wRC+ above 100 (league average). The Mets’ offense has been amongst the worst in baseball, and it doesn’t appear to be getting many reinforcements anytime soon.
The Mets may need to examine outside options to supplement their major league roster temporarily, but if they hope to remain afloat during this stretch they need their regulars that are healthy to start producing.
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