Flushing NY- The Braves won three of five games from the Mets at Citi Field and nearly 24-hours prior to the trade deadline speculation is what moves will or not occur that could change a complexion of the Mets first place lead in the NL East.
The Mets have held first place in the division since Saturday May 8, a streak of 82 days. Their nearest rivals are the Phillies and Braves, and it is more obvious the division winner will play baseball in October as the NL wild card appears to be headed out of the west where the Giants, Dodgers, and Padres are in position.
The Reds are quickly becoming a player out of the NL central and could be a part of the wild card picture down the stretch which calculates into some movement on their end.
So the trade deadline, as is most often the case, could have a significant role as it pertains to the postseason. Both the Mets and Braves are expected to be buyers and not sellers as they make a push for an interesting stretch of baseball as the calendar turns to August and looks at September.
At Citi Field Thursday afternoon, the Braves took the finale 6-3. The talk is strong the Mets could be closing in on a deal or two for either another bat in their lineup, a backend starter, or another pitcher coming out of the bullpen.
The Braves have similar needs. They are a team that has sustained a good amount of injuries, which has kept them from playing .500 baseball at 50-51, but as they say every team needs pitching that is in contention at the trade deadline.
“No idea, our focus was the 26 men we had today,” said Mets manager Luis Rojas when asked if he expects some different faces in the clubhouse when the Mets begin a three-game series with the Reds Friday night at Citi Field.
Rojas said he was confident with the talent the Mets have in place, though once again, Thursday afternoon ,Michael Conforto was inconsistent going hitless in four at bats with two strikeouts. HIs average is hovering around .203 and he left two on base.
Pete Alonso had a highlight home run, measured at 453 feet to the upper deck which rivaled one of the longest at Citi Field, though his 23rd was not enough to help the Mets widen their 4-game lead over the Braves and 3-½ from the second place Phillies.
“We’re also confident in what our front office,” does Rojas said. “So whatever decision is made, whatever is done, we trust it.”
So what will the Mets’ front office do to possibly make this team better? First place is theirs now, but the Philles and Braves are within distance and the Mets don’t want to see their lead dwindle more with their continued inefficiency to score runs which ranks 29th in runs per game.
The Mets have Steve Cohen the richest owner in the game who is not timid about making bold moves to make the improvements. There has been talk the past few days about the Mets looking t owheel and deal with the Cubs’ and acquiring All-Star infielder Javier Baez.
But after Thursday, there is also the lingering question about a Mets pitching staff that is slowly getting back to health. Carlos Carrasco, acquired from the Indians in the trade for Francisco Lindor, will finally debut on the Citi Field mound Friday night.
Rojas said, Carrasco is like getting that added pitcher at the deadline. In the next week the Mets are anticipating a return of Jacob deGrom and Thursday the two time NL Cy Young Award winner threw another side session with no added issues from right forearm tightness.
The 41-year old veteran Rich Hill, acquired last week from the Rays’ threw five innings Sunday in a Mets win over the Blue Jays. Marcus Stroman pitching to a 2.61 ERA lacked run support this week in a start against the Braves, and rookie Tylor McGill went 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA and 27 strikeouts this month.
Taijuan Walker, though, his second half struggles continued. He allowed five runs in five innings,16 earned runs in his last three starts with five home runs including two more Thursday.
So it could go back to the Mets looking for that added starter. The bullpen posted a 2.03 ERA, 12 walks, and 61 strikeouts in their last 11 games. Jeurys Familia has resembled the pitcher out of the pen in 2015 with exception of a home run ball in the 8th to Dansby Swanson.
The Mets could not make the comeback and take this series. But there is a sense they wil not sit still as the trade deadline nears.
Walker said when asked about the deadline, “We’ll see what happens We’ve got a good team here. If we do something, cool. If not, I think we have enough pieces here, and we’re getting guys back that I think we’ll be fine.
Comment: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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