If the Mets have any hope of turning around their injury plagued 2017 season, now is the time to get going. Yes, it’s only May, but playing yourself into a hole can sink even the best teams. We saw the 2016 Astros go on a historic tear to close the season, but because of their poor start, they failed to reach the postseason. The Mets are not in such dire straits yet, but a turnaround is needed quick and it seems like they may finally be on the verge of something big. In their Memorial Day matchup, the Mets defeated the Milwaukee Brewers by a score of 4-2 in an afternoon game at Citi Field. The win was the team’s second in a row and the third in their last four. The Amazins’ are sitting in second place, seven games behind the division leading Nationals and seven games behind the second Wild Card spot, currently occupied by Arizona. Here’s how it went down:
Gsellman Finds the Groove
Despite the imminent move back to the bullpen, Robert Gsellman put forth his best start of the year. He tossed seven strong innings, only surrendering three hits, two walks, and two runs (one of which was earned). Add in five strikeouts on the afternoon and the 23-year-old right-hander lowered his ERA to 5.75 on the season. To sweeten the pot even more, Gsellman was behind half of the team’s offense yesterday, notching two RBIs on a sacrifice fly and a bases-loaded walk. It’s good to see him round into form, but too little too late with the returns of Steven Matz and Seth Lugo looming. Earlier this week, Sandy Alderson announced that Matz and Lugo will be making one more rehab start each and then rejoining the rotation. Gsellman will slide into indefinite bullpen duty, but they may not be such a bad thing as the Mets have continued to struggle to find reliable pieces for the pen.
Rivera Making the Most of His Chances
Travis d’Arnaud was given the day off on Monday after catching 19 innings between Saturday and Sunday. It seems like any opportunity given to Rene Rivera in 2017 has never been squandered. The 33-year-old backstop continues to get clutch hits for this ball club, smacking a line drive to left in the fifth inning to score Asdrubal Cabrera and the Mets’ first run of the game. It’s hard to argue that Travis d’Arnaud should be the undisputed starting catcher on this team given his injury history, streakiness at the plate, and inability to throw out runners. Rivera has seemingly done everything d’Arnaud cannot: staying healthy, getting clutch hits, and protecting the running game. It’s a long shot but if he continues to play like this then Rivera may transform d’Arnaud into an expendable asset come the trade deadline.
Conforto Fights Off a Mini-Slump
Michael Conforto smacked a line-drive RBI double into the right field corner in the fifth, scoring Rivera. As any rational person would expect, Conforto will have to come back to earth eventually, but it was nice to see him fight off the mini-slump he’s been dealing with over the last few games. Over the last three games (excluding Monday’s game), Conforto was 2 for his last 14. The former Oregon State Beaver has had an impressive May, ranking second in the National League in runs scored (25), tied for sixth in home runs (7), and tied for first in extra-base hits (16).
Flores Stays Hot
Ask not what you can do for Wilmer Flores, but what Wilmer Flores can do for you. Flores manned second base for the Amazins Monday and notched three hits, raising his batting average to .313. Righties, lefties, it doesn’t matter; we’re going to have to start talking about whether Flores really is a major league-caliber hitter after all. Flores’s versatility makes him one of the most valuable assets on this club. Being available at every infield position ensures that he can squeeze his way into a fair amount of playing time between injuries and resting players. However, it makes you wonder if Flores should be in the lineup every day, and, if so, who should he supplant?
Sewald Finding His Place
Paul Sewald is in the circle of trust. Terry Collins’ circle of trust that is. It seems that the club has finally found a suitable role for the young right-hander, the table setter for Addison Reed. Sewald tossed a perfect eighth yesterday, with two strikeouts, and in a bullpen that lacks reliable arms, he is a welcomed sight. Although, we all know it’s a matter of time before Terry overuses him and he falls in with the rest of this overworked unit.
Paging Curtis Granderson
Excluding Gsellman, three players in the starting lineup failed to record a hit today: Jose Reyes, Jay Bruce, and Curtis Granderson. Jay Bruce has been an important offensive weapon this year, essentially carrying the team in April, so we can give him a temporary pass. Jose Reyes has contributed somewhat on the defensive end and seems to be starting to come alive offensively, so we can excuse him as well. Curtis Granderson, on the other hand, looks lost at the plate again after strong signs of improvement. Granderson posted another 0-for-4 day, and for 36-year-old outfielder in a walk year, you have to wonder how long the team will wait for him. Given the current injury situation, Granderson kind of “has” to play. But once Yoenis Cespedes returns, Collins will be left with some big decisions. I’m a huge Curtis Granderson fan, but it’s growing harder each day to justify his place on this team, especially given his high price tag.
Tonight’s crown belongs to the G-man himself, Robert Gsellman. Gsellman earns the crown with seven strong innings, a quality start, and two RBIs.
The Mets play game two of a four-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers tonight at 7:10 p.m. Tyler Pill will make his first career start, facing Zach Davies. Pill made his Major League debut in relief on Saturday and boasted a 1.96 ERA in Triple-A.
Photo credit: Adam Hunger – USA Today Sports