As the Mets get set to open the second half with a home series with the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, the Mets have a lot of work to do if they have any notion of trying to creep back into the wild-card race.
It’s unlikely, though, that the Mets will contend, as they simply don’t have that much talent to work with. That’s not to say that the last two and half months won’t be important. Quite the contrary.
The way the Mets finish this season could prove to be a precursor of things to come in the future. The future looks bright. With that said, here are five defining storylines to watch for, as it could indicate the direction the Mets are heading in.
What will be Harvey and Wheelers’ innings limit this year?
Well, if Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins are to believed, than the max innings for Harvey will be set at around 210 (40 more than last season), while Wheeler’s is set to be around 185 innings.
Harvey has compiled 130 innings thus far, while Wheeler has tossed 96.2 between Las Vegas and New York.
Considering that the Mets will likely be out of the race, limiting the number of innings for both Harvey and Wheeler seems practical and the franchise could be better off for it. Regardless, it’s something that bears watching.
Who will take hold of first base?
Well if you poll most Mets fans, they all want Josh Satin to get the job full-time, or least the majority of at bats.
Collins seems reticent to tip his hand and wants to give all parties a fair chance. Obviously, I don’t need to rehash the stats that support more playing time for Satin, as Davis has been a complete mess. However, Davis should not be forgotten, as he’s been a slow starter before and why not give him the benefit of the doubt for a rebirth in the second half.
Will Mets be sellers and/or buyers at the trade deadline?
Alderson has stated on many occasions that the Mets will open the checkbook in order to acquire the bats necessary to make the Mets contenders in the future.
Will Alderson be looking to make some moves at the deadline by shopping some of its surplus pitching to acquire some much-needed offense (especially in regards to the outfield)? Or will Alderson dangle the likes of Bobby Parnell, Marlon Byrd, Daniel Murphy, etc. and try to bolster the farm even more?
Whether the Mets are in a buying or a selling mode, don’t expect the Mets to be quiet at the deadline this time around.
Will there be any call-ups of significance?
Many Mets’ fans are eager in anticipation about some prospects on the farm being called up this season.
There is a good chance that, granted they are still with the franchise, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, Jack Leathersich, Travis d’Arnaud (given he’s healthy) and Wilmer Flores could be called up by season’s end–with the most likely scenario being that they are part of the September call-ups.
Flores and d’Arnaud could provide some spark from the offensive side of things and Montero and deGrom could inject some more life into a blossoming rotation or perhaps help in the bullpen. Leathersich could add some buzz to the bullpen with his strikeout-inducing arm.
Again, given that they are not traded, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the aforementioned minor-leaguers could all make a splash late this summer in Queens.
Jonathon Niese’s health
The good news is that Niese will not need surgery on his rotator cuff and that with some rest and rehabilitation, he could be able to rejoin the rotation in mid-August.
Niese is currently doing some long tossing at the team’s spring training facility and soon he will begin a rehab assignment to build up his arm strength.
Whether it was injury related or not, Niese did struggle a bit in the early parts of the season. However, if the Mets can get consistent and healthy efforts out of Niese to end the season, it could go a long way in stabilizing the rotation while calming some fears about Niese’s health at the same time.