With last night’s 9-2 victory over the Nationals, the Mets have a day of rest before welcoming the Padres to Citi Field in the first round of the 2022 playoffs. While there are certain locks to the core of the Mets’ roster, there are still a lot of questions for how the Mets will construct their 26-man roster.
The Wild Card round is a best of three series, which means that certain preconceptions about how to construct a playoff roster need to be examined. Just how to prepare for a short series like this is a new development, as this playoff format is brand new, but the question remains the same: how do the Mets maximize all the spots on their roster?
Let’s get the certainties out of the way: the Mets’ lineup against righties will look something like this:
- Brandon Nimmo - CF
- Francisco Lindor - SS
- Jeff McNeil - 2B/RF
- Pete Alonso - 1B
- Eduardo Escobar - 3B
- Daniel Vogelbach - DH
- Mark Canha - LF/RF
- Luis Guillorme - 2B
- Tomás Nido/James McCann - C
That is ten of the 26 spots already accounted for. Throw in Francisco Álvarez as the right-handed DH, and you’ve got all of the sure-thing hitters.
On the pitching side, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Chris Bassitt are going to get the nod for the series’ three starts. Edwin Díaz is a lock for the bullpen, as are Adam Ottovino, Trevor May, Seth Lugo, and Joely Rodriguez.
There are still 7 open spots, but it is probably easier to decide who isn’t going to be there than who will be. After throwing 6 innings in last night’s game, it seems like Trevor Williams isn’t going to be on the Wild Card roster. That’s a shame, because Williams is one of the unsung heroes of this team. But, if the Mets move on to another round, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Williams on the roster.
Tylor Megill was put on the IL for...reasons?...on Wednesday, so he’s missing the first round as well.
With the maximum of 13 pitchers, the Mets still have five spots available. It seems likely that one or both of Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker will make the cut, just in case a starter or two falter or succumb to injury, or if an extra inning game is in the offing. The last three spots likely will likely go to Drew Smith, Mychel Givens, and David Peterson. While those names may not inspire a ton of confidence in the average Mets fan, as of late, all of them have performed better than they were earlier in the season. Is that small sample size? Is that regression to the mean? Is that luck? Your guess is as good as mine.
So with 24 spots accounted for, the Mets still have two bench spots. With both catchers - and catcher/DH Álvarez on the roster - along with Escobar and Guillorme who can fill in at short stop or second base in a pinch, it seems like both of the last two bench spots look to be outfielders. While Tyler Naquin seems like that fit on paper, he’s collected just 12 hits since September 1st in 70 plate appearances. He’s been striking out an awful lot, and isn’t exactly a defensive specialist in the outfield either.
However, he has more of a role on the roster than Mark Vientos, whose initial major league call-up has seen him look overwhelmed most of the time at the plate, and is primarily an infielder.
Of the players who played this week, that leaves Terrance Gore as your potential final spot on the roster. While not a Gold Glove defender, Gore can fake it in center field and, most importantly, is a pinch runner without compare. This is a skill the Mets may very well need, especially if Vogelbach gets on base late in a game when a run could tie or win the game. Burning a roster spot simply on a pinch runner is not necessarily the best use of your roster in the playoffs, but that skill is so underrepresented elsewhere what it makes sense to roster him.
The variables here are the health of Darin Ruf and Starling Marte. While both are currently on the IL, Ruf’s ‘injury’ seemed like a chance to give him a rest in hopes it would help him find his stroke. But Ruf has been borderline unplayable since he joined the Mets and, aside from Gore, represents the least offensive threat on the roster.
Marte is a different story. Marte has speed, which is Gore’s strength. Marte is an outfielder - see ya Naquin. Marte is right handed, which may push Álvarez to the bench if it is determined that Marte should still not be playing the outfield. Marte solves a lot of issues on this team if he is healthy for the Wild Card round.
However, even if the Mets say that he is, that’s still a big question and, with just a day until rosters must be set, that’s a question that may have to wait for a hypothetical Division Series.
And so, it looks like the roster for the Wild Card series is not too different than the roster we had for the series against the Nationals. If you drop Williams and Vientos, you get the 26 folks that the Mets will likely have at their disposal. Let’s hope it is enough to get through the Padres, and allow us to have a similar conversation next week.