Flushing, NY- Late September at Citi Field and meaningless pertaining to October postseason baseball for the Mets and Marlins. At one time for three months this season it was supposed to be meaningful baseball for the Mets in September.
Back in mid May the Mets held first place in the National League East as they battled adversity of injuries, and their “Bench Mob” of replacements came up with huge hits that won ballgames.
The Mets never hit well in situations with runners on base that lingered as a season long dilemma, but they managed to come up with a key hit or two. Manager Luis Rojas pushed the right buttons with a makeship lineup as the injured slowly recovered.
Jacob deGrom was on his way to a possible third NL CY Young Award and elbow issues were a recurring issue that placed him on the injured list. The Mets held first place for more than 90 days and never could regain the top spot.
In doing so, they became the first team in baseball to enjoy a three month top spot in their division and lose it. The Mets last week were eliminated from postseason contention and until then continued to believe there was hope.
Instead, after winning a makeup split doubleheader over the Marlins, Tuesday evening at Citi Field, the Mets will complete another losing season with their finale Sunday afternoon in Atlanta.
The Phillies and Braves finally played to their potential and took control of the division. The Mets could never overtake the Braves who appear to be headed to a fourth straight division title. With six games remaining, the first place Braves and Phillies are involved in a three-game series that will decide a division winner and who goes on to the postseason next week.
After their Sunday season finale in Atlanta, the Mets will begin a busy offseason. There will be many changes to the roster, moves in the front office that include a search for a general manager. In all probability, the managerial status for Rojas is very much in jeopardy.
Decisions, though, will center on a pitching rotation that will hopefully be anchored again with Jacob deGrom who did not make another start when going down in early July with right forearm tightness
Tuesday and prior to their 14th doubleheader of seven-innings, this one caused because of September 1 rain postponement, the Mets finally decided to shutdown deGrom.
A major part of that rotation will revolve around a healthy Noah Syndergaard. After hurling a perfect first inning in Game 2, won by the Mets, 2-1, in 9-innings, there is every reason to feel confident that Syndergaard is on the road back after a long haul of recovery from Tommy John surgery.
First, though, is assuring that Syndergaard takes a qualifying offer, that likely will be the situation after pitching for the first time in almost two years. And a healthy deGrom and Syndergaard could once again provide the Mets with a formidable first two in their rotation .
“It would be something I would be extremely grateful for,” Syndergaard said about taking a qualifying offer. “We’lll cross that bridge when we get there. It’s definitely something I’m hoping for.”
Syndergaard threw a fastball at 96. He also threw changeups. One inning of 10 pitches, nine for strikes, two strikeouts and avoiding the curve or other breaking balls during the comeback process to avoid strain on the elbow.
“ It was special for him and the welcome when he walked back to the dugout it was good to see him pitch like that,” said Rojas.
Overall, this was a night the Mets were looking for with five games remaining. Javier Baez, also a part of the off season roster decisions, scored the winning run in the nightcap when James McCann hit a slow bouncer between the mound and home plate.
Baez, with a 12- game hitting streak, lashed a two out single to left, going with the fastball that scored Francisco Lindor for the Mets first run in their opening 5-2 win. Lindor also homered and also drove in three runs.
“I was just focused on not going too early,” Baez said about dashing home with the winning run. “We still going to play hard and go out there and compete. I can feel it. They are really working hard.”
Baez said he expects to win soon, obviously a reference to the Mets finishing strong. Though, he is in that offseason equation of decisions. Baez is in that walk-off year and the Mets will contemplate making him an offer as a free agent.
But this night was all positive. Syndergaard made his comeback and is looking for another start of one or two innings. Baez and Lindor were instrumental in the sweep and the Mets breaking a five game losing streak.
The Mets can only hope that they finish strong. They hope they have more wins come their way and use the formula that worked Tuesday night continue next year.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter @Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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