Thursday presents the Mets with their final scheduled day off before the July 30 trade deadline. One last chance to reflect on the club without the input of new data.
They should take five minutes to reflect … and the other 23 hours and 55 minutes to keep hunting for pitching.
No need to over-complicate this, right? Even on a day when Marcus Stroman delivered an absolute gem, permitting a mere one hit and one walk over eight innings to lead his club to a 7-0 blanking of the Reds Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ball Park (and therefore a series victory), the bigger picture fed the two primary takeaways:
1. Stroman’s performance meant so much because of the recent beatings taken by the Mets’ pitching staff.
2. This club is really starting to hit.
So if they arrive at the 30th with three new arms aboard and Kris Bryant remains available, then sure, the Mets can take a run at the versatile infielder-outfielder, a former National League Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year who would bring some heft to their endeavor. It would be the wrong move, however, to expend any player capital on Bryant, who sure feels like a luxury at the moment, until they meet the necessity of arms reinforcements.
On Wednesday, the Mets nearly hit for the home-run cycle, with Jonathan Villar going solo in the second inning, Dom Smith poking a third-inning grand slam and Luis Guillorme adding a two-run blast in the fifth to account for all their scoring. In the last five games of this 3-3 trip — ironically, their five games without the newly injured Francisco Lindor, who strained his oblique in Friday night’s second-half opener — the Mets totaled 39 runs and 58 hits. I asked Luis Rojas if this marked the best he has felt about his offense all season.
“Yes, it’s fair to say because you see the connection of individuals that we know that can hit,” Rojas responded. “So Brandon [Nimmo] getting on base [with a walk], [Jeff] McNeil connecting [on a single], [Pete] Alonso connecting [on a single]. The grand slam happened because of that, because of the connection of good sequencing of hitters. Then we have four runs.
“A lot of guys are feeling really good and that’s what’s led to scoring more than three runs, which is I think our average for the season [they’re now at 3.94 runs per game, still near the NL’s bottom]. Guys have done a good job lately. You can see that the guys are starting to feel more comfortable at the plate.”
Speaking of comfortable, if you happened to watch the game on SNY (as I did, thanks to pandemic player-access restrictions limiting our travel), perhaps you saw footage of Jacob deGrom playing a light game of catch Wednesday at Citi Field. The Mets’ sidelined ace looked as beaten up as Dennis Quaid’s aging quarterback in “Any Given Sunday.” He certainly didn’t look close to returning from the injured list.
Which means that the Mets, as they try to maintain their NL East lead, have two reliable starters in Stroman and Taijuan Walker, with the previously unknown Tylor Megill pitching his way into the third slot and a hope that Carlos Carrasco, out all year, can return shortly. It’s not even close to enough. Consider that, just in this Reds series, 1) the Mets started Jared Eickhoff Monday and designated him for assignment on Tuesday; and 2) started Robert Stock Tuesday and placed him on the injured list Wednesday. The craziness brings to mind the vulnerable Guy Fleegman of “Galaxy Quest,” who uttered, “I’m expendable. I’m the guy in the episode who dies to prove how serious the situation is.”
The Mets need some less expendable pitchers. A starter like Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Michael Pineda or Tyler Anderson. A reliever like Craig Kimbrel or Ian Kennedy. Three imports wouldn’t represent overkill. Whereas prioritizing one position player before those three pitchers would be overthinking it.