New Identity A Secret Weapon for Mets
Sunday was a day to forget for New York baseball fans but Thursday begins a new season. We'll get into the Bronx Bombers later but for now, let's focus on the team in Queens. The Mets begin Friday night with a 3.5 game lead in the National League East and it wasn't easy for manager Luis Rojas getting them there.
The Amazin's were smacked by the injury bug from the middle of March on, but now they're on the mend. Carlos Carrasco, another sweet addition or so it seemed from the Francisco Lindor trade with Cleveland, was counted on as a solid number 3 starter behind Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman. Carrasco never made it out of spring training, now he is expected back next week when the rotation really needs a boost. Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo all spent significant time on the Injured List. Each starts the second half, healthy and on track to contribute.
But the biggest advantage for the Mets is the experience they had weathering those injuries and remaining in first place. How important will the evolution of the "Bench Mob" be, late in games, down the stretch? I bet you pretty important for Rojas and his coaching staff. Who will forget Kevin Pillar getting his face smashed by a fastball, bleeding all over the field and being back in the lineup with a face mask only a few days later? Does it really get tougher than that? All of this has helped develop a winning identity for this team.
Teams don't want to play the Mets and right now, they shouldn't. Yes, the Metropolitans throw up a stinker like Sunday with the best of them, but as the standings show, they are in sole possession of first place. Over the last month, their $300 million shortstop is hitting, fielding and leading liked owner Steve Cohen had hoped. Brandon Nimmo is developing into a star and Jeff McNeil is showing signs that he may be back to his All Star form. Then there is the Polar Bear. Pete Alonso works hard and has fun playing baseball. He happens to be pretty good too. You need all of that.
The Mets offense can be scary but their starting rotation's first 3 can be frightening for opposing hitters. Jacob deGrom is the best there is. Taijuan Walker has been the steal of last winter's free agency market and Marcus Stroman has been better than expected. The bullpen, led by Edwin Diaz, has been excellent. The return of Seth Lugo puts the Mets bullpen amongst the best in baseball. All of that adds up to a team with a lot of faith in the guy on the mound. You need that too.
The Mets are good and their players know it. They are developing some grit and feel like they are never out of ballgames. That's a strong championship identity trait, now let's see if Luis Rojas and the "Bench Mob" can make the rest of it happen. The second half should be fun!