The seas are becoming stormy, and the Mets are in danger of being thrown overboard off Steve Cohen’s first-place boat.
The GM has a phone attached to his ear every waking minute with a prospective trade partner, while the manager on Monday night asked James McCann to make his first major league start at first base in a desperate attempt to juice his Flushing Slumber Co.
There is no better time than now, than Tuesday night, for Jacob deGrom to try to throw the Mets, 3-2 losers to the Rockies, a lifeline.
Because it isn’t even Memorial Day, the S.O.S doesn’t mean Save Our Season.
Save Our Scrubs is more like it.
If even he possibly can.
At the very least, the sight of defiant No. 48 back on the mound throwing his triple-digit poison at batters will mean everything to Mets fans who would trust their Cy Young guarding Trae Young in crunch time.
It will be a ray of sunshine amidst all the raindrops when deGrom, who hasn’t pitched since May 9 because of right-side tightness, returns to give his decimated team a psychological and emotional lift and try to help hold the fort every five days until the cavalry can leave the infirmary.
“Right now we don’t have any pitch count in mind, we don’t have like an up-down that we can talk about or tell even Jake,” Luis Rojas said. “It’s just, ‘Go ahead and pitch, and do what you do.’ Once we get a feel from different views, I think that’s when the decision is gonna be made.”
DeGrom returns to a team long on grit and pluck, but woefully short on frontline players with the likes of Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and J.D. Davis all in various stages of rehab. Grit and pluck can only take you so far, even in the clustered NL East.
The worry, of course, beyond whether deGrom (league-best 0.68 ERA, 65 Ks, 7 BBs over 40 innings) can deGrominate again with no setbacks or ill effects, is what kind of a difference can he realistically be expected to make right now … how in the world can he expect run support from the current cast of Little Engine That Could characters populating the lineup when he too often worked without it all these years?
Alonso (hand) and Davis (hand) could both be back within a week, but Conforto and McNeil, saddled with significant hamstring injuries, aren’t expected back for at least a month. You can’t possibly expect Cameron Maybin (0-for-19) to start spraying hits all over the place, or Jose Peraza, or Khalil Lee, or Jonathan Villar. Johneshwy Fargas, you ask? He crashed into the center field wall and left with a left shoulder sprain.
But it is so maddening that Francisco Lindor is mired in mud at the plate that is almost cruel continuing to ask him to carry this ragtag lineup right now. Almost.
When he grounded into a double play in the fourth inning, after Villar had become the Mets first base runner with a leadoff single, the boobirds were all over their $341 million man. He was booed on his way back to the dugout after lining to third in the seventh. With the tying run on first and one out in the ninth against reliever Carlos Estevez, he flied to left.
New team. New league. New hitting coach.
“I think anytime a player gets to start like the way he has, I know the first person that’s most concerned is always the player,” acting general manager Zack Scott said. “Probably the best example with the Mets here was Carlos Beltran when he signed a large deal at the time, and he really struggled early on and then came on very strong. I don’t have long-term concerns about it.”
Lindor is fortunate that Cohen is a much more patient man than Boss Steinbrenner (could you imagine HIM on Twitter)? Toward the end of the game, Cohen tweeted: “Anybody want to suit up?”
Ya Gotta Believe Lindor won’t hit .189 (his weight, ironically) the rest of the way. Scott must resist the temptation to make a panic move for now. Emphasis on for now. Remember that Noah Syndergaard is due back in mid-June and Seth Lugo next week. So there’s that.
The Mets have scored four runs in three games. David Peterson surrendered home runs on hanging sliders to Ryan McMahon and Elias Diaz that solo shots by McCann and then pinch-hitter Brandon Drury off Austin Gomber in the ninth couldn’t overcome. Perhaps the sight of deGrom back on the mound will excite Lindor as much as it will the rest of Citi Field.
DeGrom will need all the help he can get. Even more now than always.