SAN DIEGO – The Mets are not only surviving their injury hits, but they’re making fans forget that some of their best players have been sidelined.
Take a deep breath, because the list of injured Mets runs deep.
There’s Jacob deGrom (out since spring straining with stress reaction on right scapula), Max Scherzer (out since May 19 with a left oblique strain), Tylor Megill (out since May 12 with right biceps tendinitis), Trevor May (out since May 3 with right triceps strain), James McCann (out since May 13 with left hamate fracture) and Travis Jankowski (out since May 26 with left 4th metacarpal fracture).
DeGrom, Scherzer, and Megill – 60 percent of the Mets rotation – all being on the shelf could have derailed the early part of the Mets season. So then it shouldn’t be surprising that, even on paper, the results haven’t been ideal in that time for the starting-pitching department. Mets starters have posted a 4.84 ERA, good for 22nd in the league, since Scherzer hit the injured list on May 19.
And yet, the Mets have gained ground in the NL East standings during that span.
On May 19, the day the Amazin’s fan base began preparing for another lost season full of injury hits and bad luck because Scherzer took himself out of his start with pain in his left side, the first-place Mets held a seven-game lead over the second-place Braves.
Jump forward to June 7, nearly three weeks since the Mets rotation has been managing without their trifecta of starting arms, and the first-place Mets have a nine-game lead over Atlanta. With Megill set to rejoin the starting five this weekend, it can be said that the Mets rotation has mostly survived what has been the toughest challenge of the season so far. Rather than derailing the season, the Mets injury hits haven’t even slowed them down.
The Amazin’s are playing like an unstoppable force at the moment, and that’s saying something in June.
The Mets haven’t had a winning record in the month of June since 2012, when they went 15-13. Of course, there’s still plenty of time left this month for the club to continue that streak, but the Mets are trending up. Last year, they went .500 (15-15) in June. They entered Tuesday 4-2 to begin the month.
So let’s turn to the Mets bullpen, the piece of the team that was, and in many ways still is, its Achilles heel. This part may even be a little hard to believe, but Mets relievers have maintained a 3.30 ERA since Trevor May went to the IL on May 3. That ERA is ranked sixth in MLB and second-best in the National League, behind only the Braves (3.03 ERA). Mets relievers have also recorded the fourth-most strikeouts (127) in the NL since May went down, with 41 of those whiffs coming from Edwin Diaz.
That’s not to say the Mets bullpen doesn’t need reinforcing. It will certainly be the department that Mets GM Billy Eppler tries to upgrade at this year’s trade deadline, likely in the form of a lefty reliever. And even though outfielder Nick Plummer has enjoyed his major-league callup, with his two home runs and five RBI in seven games, the Mets are missing Jankowski’s speed on the basepaths.
Tomas Nido has stepped up in the absence of McCann. The backup catcher is batting .407 with five runs, a double, five RBI, three walks and a .911 OPS over his last nine games entering Tuesday. Over his last 18 games, he’s hitting .315 with a .373 on-base percentage. Nido is 10-for-25 (.400) with runners in scoring position this season.
The main takeaway here is, the Mets are overcoming their injury hits by keeping their heads down, grinding through the challenges, and passing the baton to the next man up. It’s been a refreshing surprise, and a major element of their first-place success in the early part of their 2022 season.