Fresh off a four-day break for the All-Star Game festivities, the dog days are about to begin for the Mets. The schedule has them playing every day for the rest of the month, without a day off until Monday, July 31. Now seems as good a time as any to reconsider the makeup of this team as we embark on a busy and meaningful second half of the baseball season.
For starters (pun intended) Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins, and Dan Warthen need to give careful consideration to the rotation. Noah Syndergaard is clearly not coming back soon and Matt Harvey is still a question mark, but Robert Gsellman should be healed up from his hamstring strain to rejoin the rotation. Along with Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, and Seth Lugo, that should give us five healthy, viable starters. We might have to cross our fingers for a rain out during this upcoming stretch to avoid having to plug in Rafael Montero or Tyler Pill for a spot start. We open this 17-game stretch with three series at home against Colorado, St. Louis, and Oakland, followed by road series against San Diego and Seattle. Thankfully, there are no launching pads among Citi Field, Petco Park and Safeco field, so the gopher ball happy pitchers should be able to relax and focus on throwing strikes. As far as the initial order of pitchers, the break allows us the luxury to skip ahead to deGrom and follow with Lugo, Matz and Wheeler, giving Gsellman a few extra days to heal.
Bullpen anchors Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins will soon be rejoined by Jeurys Familia, which should give this crew an enormous lift. Josh Edgin and Paul Sewald deserve to stick around as well, but it’s time to mix it up with the rest of the pen. Neil Ramirez and Fernando Salas need to be released. They’ve both been completely ineffective. If Josh Smoker and Hansel Robles are still struggling with control in Las Vegas, stick with Erik Goeddel, Chasen Bradford or use Pill as a long man. Maybe someone is available on the waiver wire.
Defensively, it’s time to shore up the infield. Make the long awaited call to bring up Amed Rosario as soon as we can trade one of Neil Walker or Asdrubal Cabrera. Which ever one doesn’t get traded should get a long look at third base so we can audition for next year. Meanwhile, Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera can split duties at second base. As Lucas Duda is a likely trade candidate but Dominic Smith still has some maturing to do, one of them can split time with the young lefty at first.
As far as the lineup goes, now that Jose Reyes has rediscovered his bat we can give him one more shot to lead off to give us some speed atop the lineup again. Michael Conforto should bat second and play every day, rotating with the other outfielders until either Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce are inevitably traded. The one who is not traded should provide protection for Yoenis Cespedes from the cleanup spot. The four-day break should be good for the struggling and rusty-looking Yoenis Cespedes. The lineup will certainly need to be fluid based on upcoming trades and health, but should also take streaks into consideration. Collins needs to do a better job of juggling the lineup card based on who the hot and struggling hitters are that week. This is a team full of streaky hitters and the Manager needs to coach accordingly.
Whether or not the Mets can pull off a miracle, it will be an interesting second half of the season. Departures, new faces, new positions, maybe a few surprise heroes, and unexpected moments. The Mets are more fun to watch when they’re struggling than the Yankees are when they’re winning. Maybe it’s the announcers, maybe it’s the fans, but the orange and blue always seem to hold our attention.