It’s not like the Mets are going on vacation, although four days in Miami sounds pretty good to most North Easterners. The First Place Mets (6-3) are taking their four-game winning streak into Miami this weekend for a four-game series against the Fish (4-4) who took two out of three last weekend at chilly Citi Field.
Although they hate to leave the friendly confines of Citizen’s Bank Park, where they just hit 10 home runs, banged out 30 hits and scored 23 runs, they also do very well at the Marlins Park. In 2016, the Mets went 6-3 in South Beach, scoring 45 runs in their nine games.
Everything seemed to change for the Mets after Asdrubal Cabrera was buzzed by Edubray Ramos in the eight inning of a 2-2 tie in the opening game of the Phillies series. Cabrera, who had hit a game winning home run off Ramos in extra innings last September 22nd at Citi Field, threw his bat in celebration as the Mets were making a charge for a Wild-Card spot. Apparently only Ramos felt the need to throw a purpose pitch over Cabrera’s head.
His manager and most of his teammates admonished the second-year player for putting his own agenda ahead of the team. Although the pitch didn’t hit Cabrera, it seemed to send a message to the Mets more than Cabrera, who rallied around their shortstop. After Cabrera worked out a walk, Jay Bruce cracked his second home run of the game to give the Mets a 4-2 lead in a game they eventually won. Then the Mets put up 14 runs and bashed 14 extra base hits, including seven home runs, the next night.
Robert Gsellman (0-1) will start the four-game weekend series in Miami against Wei-Yin Chen (1-0) on Thursday night. Gsellman was roughed up on Saturday at Citi Field by the Marlins, who scored three times in the first three innings, but then he settled down to keep the Mets in the game until the bullpen imploded in an 8-1 loss.
The Mets are expected to get Juan Lagares back at some point this weekend as he continues his rehab of his strained left oblique in Port St. Lucie, just a 2-hour drive away. The Gold Glove center fielder has been appearing in rehab games since Monday and could be a welcome addition in the cavernous outfield in Miami.
But if Lagares does come back, who goes? OF-Michael Conforto, who batted leadoff in the final game in Philadelphia has two home runs in his only two starts in the crowded outfield of Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce. But he is the only left-handed power hitter on the bench, which has only four players right now (one is the other catcher) as the Mets are carrying 13 pitchers.
With question marks about the durability of Zach Wheeler still unanswered and the fact that the other starters can’t seem to make it through the seventh inning yet, they need a lot of arms in the bullpen. They no longer have Bartolo Colon to eat up innings and the absence of Steven Matz and Seth Lugo are more daunting than originally thought. How many times can you run Fernando Salas and Jerry Blevins out there? Salas has already appeared in six of the Mets nine games and Blevins has appeared in five. By The Way, they have combined for 8.2 innings of shutout relief with 12 strikeouts.
The most likely candidate is rookie Paul Sewald if only because Rafael Montero (7.71 ERA) was a former starter and might be able to provide innings.
Let’s hope the Mets training staff brings lots of SPF-50 on this trip as the Mets play three night games down here and may want to take advantage of the sunshine before they return home for a nine-game home stand and welcome the Nationals into Citi Field next Friday.