Having started off the 2020 season in sweeping fashion by beating the Nationals three times, my Mets were feeling pretty good when the previous installment of the series ended, though the big question mark was what exactly was going on with Michael Conforto.
March 30, Game 4: Phillies 2, Mets 1 (10)
Steven Matz makes his first start of the season as the Mets host the Phillies, and he shoves. In six innings, he allows one run, strikes out twelve, walks one, and throws just 91 pitches. Deivy Grullon hits a solo home run against him in the sixth, the first run either team scores in this game.
The worst news coming out of this game is that Amed Rosario has to leave late in the game after he’s injured on a collision at second base. But Rene Rivera provides some hope by hitting a solo home run to tie things up in the bottom of the eighth, and Robert Gsellman was kind enough to pitch two scoreless innings before handing things over to Seth Lugo. He throws a scoreless ninth, but the game goes into extras and Lugo issues a leadoff walk, and later in the inning gives up a run when Nick Williams singles to plate Bryce Harper.
Deolis Guerra, still playing after being one of the players the Mets dealt to get Johan Santana back in 2008, sets down Eduardo Nunez, who had come into the game for Rosario at short, Matt Adams, who hit for Jake Marisnick earlier in the game and then got some outfield playing time, and Rene Rivera in order to hand the Mets a loss.
March 31, Game 5: Mets 5, Phillies 2
The day starts with the update on Amed Rosario, which is that he has a mild oblique strain. Bit of an odd injury for a collision in the field, but hey, at least it’s not worse. He’s supposed to miss about a week, so I put him on the 10-day IL and call up top prospect Andres Gimenez from Triple-A Syracuse.
Without Conforto and Rosario, I’m looking for offense, so my outfield for this game has Dom Smith in left, Brandon Nimmo in center, and J.D. Davis in right. Despite having brought up Gimenez to start the day, I’ve got Luis Guillorme making the start at short. And today is the first time I’m going to try out my plan to piggyback Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello.
Pete Alonso really makes things a lot easier in this one, starting the Mets’ scoring with a single in the bottom of the first before Robinson Cano brings in another run with a sac fly. And Alonso really helps the cause with a three-run home run in the bottom of the third, putting the Mets up 5-0.
Wacha goes four scoreless innings with five strikeouts, no walks, and just one hit allowed. Looking at that line in hindsight, maybe he deserved a bit more time, but with my plan and his spot coming up second in the bottom of the inning, I pinch hit Matt Adams for him and bring in Porcello to star the fifth. He goes four innings, too, giving up one run one five hits with six strikeouts and a walk, with the lone run scoring on a Jean Segura single in the top of the eighth.
Brad Brach gets the ball to start the ninth, but he gives up two singles, gets an out, and issues a walk to load the bases. Enter Edwin Diaz. Strikeout, run-scoring single, strikeout to end the game. That’ll do. Fun note: Rhys Hoskins struck out in all five of his plate appearances.
April 1, Game 6: Mets 6, Phillies 3
We finally get the diagnosis on Conforto, and it’s not awful but definitely not great. He’s got a fractured cheekbone from that hit-by-pitch he suffered a few days earlier, and he’s going to miss six weeks. With that, I decide to DFA Eduardo Nunez and call up Jarrett Parker from Syracuse, figuring that at least gives me a real outfielder for now, especially with two real shortstops on the roster.
My outfield configuration from the previous day remains the same, and Andres Gimenez makes his major league debut, starting at short and batting eighth. And this is the first time the Mets see Zack Wheeler since he signed with the Phillies over the offseason.
Jacob deGrom makes his second start of the year, and he’s a bit more human to start this one, giving up a pair of runs in the first inning on a pair of singles by Jay Bruce and Didi Gregorius.
Pete Alonso hits a solo home run in the bottom of the first, but neither team scores again until deGrom allows a run in the fifth on a Rhys Hoskins double. Alonso singles to plate deGrom, who singled earlier in the inning, in the bottom of the fifth and get the Mets to within a run of the Phillies. Wheeler goes 6.2 innings with just those two runs allowed, but the Mets put up a four-spot against the Phillies’ bullpen in the eighth, as pinch hitter Jarrett Parker singles in a run to tie the game before Jeff McNeil clears the bases to put the Mets up 6-3 later in the inning.
With deGrom having gone just six innings in this start, Dellin Betances was shaky in recording just one out in the seventh before Robert Gsellman threw 1.2 scoreless and Edwin Diaz notched his second save of the year with three strikeouts in a scoreless ninth.
My Mets are off to a 5-1 start to the season, which I can’t complain about too much. Here’s hoping Rosario comes back from the IL as soon as possible, as things are definitely not ideal in the outfield and bringing up Andres Gimenez this early was definitely not the plan when the season got underway.
Linda’s take: The Mets suffered their second injury of the young season with Amed Rosario going down and ending up on the IL along with Michael Conforo. Andres Gimenez, called up to replace Rosario, made his major league debut a picked up a hit and a walk. McShane might have tough decisions to make in the future if Gimenez continues to play well at the major league level.
The offense has been carrying the team and their only loss came when running into a dominant Jake Arrieta. The starting pitching has also been solid, and McShane revealed he won’t be a conventional manager when he piggybacked Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello. It worked out against the Phillies and has the potential to save the bullpen that has had the tendency to look a little shaky so far. The good news is Edwin Diaz looks to have settled down, and Robert Gsellman has been lights out so far, but Brad Brach has been terrible from the start. Considering the bullpen woes from last year, McShane will need to tread carefully so the team doesn’t suffer the same fate.