Flushing, NY- Carlos Carrasco threw three innings and about 90 pitches in a simulated game on the mound at Citi Field Saturday afternoon. The strained right hamstring comeback seems to be complete.
“His changeup was good and you know what we been through so it will be good to get him back,” said Mets manager Luis Rojas.
Carrasco, a key component in the trade for Francisco Lindor has yet to throw a pitch this season. He could start a rehab assignment next week and soon after provide a major boost to the Mets’ pitching rotation that has sustained their share of injuries.
Behind the backstop were most of the Mets pitching core and they reacted to every pitch. The Mets know the significance of adding Carrasco to their rotation.
But there was another seven- inning doubleheader ahead for the Mets. And a still to be determined starter for the Sunday afternoon series finale with the Pirates prior to the All-Star break which shows how important a boost it will be to get Carrasco back in the rotation.
And the Mets could also go shopping for a starter before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline as they continue to hold first place in the NL East, the first time they have been there prior to the All-Star break in 2007.
But these are the doubleheader Mets of 2021. They played their 10th and are slated for 13, pending of course if weather cooperates which has necessitated most of their split or straight twin bills.
Saturday it started with an ineffective slider of Marcus Stroman and the Pirates won the opener 6-2. Their starter Tyler Anderson went five innings and hit a tie breaking home run.
Pete Alonso hit his sixth home run in the last 13 games. Number 17 was a solo that went an estimated 428 feet over the left -field wall as he prepares to defend his Home Run Derby crown Monday in Denver.
And a healthy Jeff McNeil, after a month on the injured list with a left hamstring strain, went 2-for-3 in the nightcap which is also significant for the Mets in the second half.
“I’m getting comfortable at the plate,”McNeil said. “I’m starting to see the ball better. I have my barrel awareness. I’m feeling good again. It’s there. I’m feeling a lot better.”
In a mediocre division, the NL East was supposed to be the rite of baseball, the Mets have a golden opportunity to win a division title as the Braves, Phillies and Nationals continue their chase. But the Mets also need consistency from McNeil, Alonso, Dom Smith, and Michael Conforto to make this happen.
They need Jacob deGrom to continue his dominance as their ace. They need Stroman to command his slider and newly named NL All-Star Taijuan Walker to do the same. And right-hander Tylor Megill has been a good addition, through 3-⅔ innings before the pen took over in the second game did not earn his first Major League win.
But Megill tied Dick Selma, Dwight Gooden, and Matt Harvey with 26 strikeouts all in their first four starts as a Met.
The Mets are 35-9 when scoring first. They did that again in the first game and Brandon Nimmo, also a catalyst since returning to the lineup, robbed Bryan Reynolds of a home run to start the day with a grabbing leap that was headed over the centerfield wall.
Nimmo is batting .337 in the leadoff spot since returning from a two month absence due to a right index finger bone bruise.
“I’m so proud of Brandon,” said Rojas. “He has come a long way. He is a very good outfielder right now. I think he is more confident there. That’s why he got to the wall, very much aware where he was on the warning track.”
Jonathan Villar is part of that “Bench Mob” that has continued to contribute and keep that hold of first place as the Mets have used 51 players through 86 games this season. These are all signs of a good team that gets contributions from an entire roster.
Villar hit his 9th home run in the fourth inning of the first game. Villar, Thursday evening, became the 10th player in Mets history to homer from both sides of the plate in one game against the Pirates and is expected to continue his role when J.D. Davis returns after the All-Star break.
And there is this Mets bullpen that leaves more room for discussion. They turned the corner and got the Mets another split of a doubleheader as Edwin Diaz picked up his 19th save in 20 opportunities and threw 10 pitches.
Said Rojas, “For me this is the best outing I’ve seen him have as a Met.”
Though rightfully deserved, Diaz was bypassed on the NL All-Star roster. He could use the break and rest assured the Mets will need his dominance to continue in save situations.
The Mets are a confident group and have managed to confront the adversity of injuries and all of these doubleheaders.
Comment: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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