Mets' reinforcements returning from injury could vault team to another stratosphere

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Mets treated Brandon Nimmo, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo
Mets treated Brandon Nimmo, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo

The Mets will enter play this weekend on a seven-game winning streak, in first place in the NL East, and with perhaps their most challenging portion of the season over.

Over their first 31 games, the Mets have dealt with an entire series being wiped out due to a COVID-19 outbreak that had nothing to do with them, an inordinate amount of weather postponements, a bunch of doubleheaders, and the firing of their hitting coaches.

But this team, despite a rough patch after a 7-4 start, was set up for success. And the best is probably still to come, with a half dozen reinforcements on the way.

The Mets' offense (averaging 4.8 runs per game in May) is starting to come around, and it will soon get two of its most important cogs back.

Their bullpen has been among the best in baseball, and it's been without one of the most dominant relievers in the sport for the entire season.

The top 3 in their starting rotation has been a revelation. It will likely soon become a top 5.

Here's who the Mets have returning soon, and how the team could be impacted...

Brandon Nimmo and J.D. Davis

When the Mets' offense was still mired in an early-season malaise, Brandon Nimmo and J.D. Davis were two of the only players who were hitting with any kind of regularity.

In the absence of Nimmo, Kevin Pillar has stepped up.

In the absence of Davis (and Luis Guillorme, who is also working toward a return), Jonathan Villar has stepped up.

And the Mets' offense as a whole has started to round into form, though the power still hasn't been there much.

With Nimmo expected back by the end of the weekend or early next week after what should be a brief rehab assignment and Davis perhaps a few days behind Nimmo, the Mets' offense is about to be whole again.

Apr 14, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets third baseman J.D. Davis (28) reacts with center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) after hitting a home run against the Atlanta Braves during the second inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 14, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets third baseman J.D. Davis (28) reacts with center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) after hitting a home run against the Atlanta Braves during the second inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It will be interesting to see how the lineup is constructed now that both Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor are heating up.

But no matter what the lineup looks like, it's about to get a whole lot more dangerous.

The Mets' depth on the bench will also be restored with Pillar and Villar no longer in the starting lineup most days.

Seth Lugo

We wrote during the first week of the season that the Mets' bullpen would be a scary balancing act until Seth Lugo returned.

We were wrong.

What Edwin Diaz has done is not surprising, nor is what Trevor May has done.

But in addition to Diaz and May excelling, Miguel Castro has tapped into his potential, Aaron Loup has been a revelation, and Jeurys Familia is throwing the ball as well as he has in years.

May 8, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia (27) throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth inning at Citi Field.
May 8, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia (27) throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth inning at Citi Field.

Beyond the above five pitchers, the Mets have also gotten solid contributions from Jacob Barnes (who has rebounded after a rocky start), Sean Reid-Foley, and others.

The Mets' bullpen will likely not keep up its insane level of production, but they won't need to. Not with Lugo expected back around the end of May.

A reminder of what Lugo has done in relief during his career:

2.53 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with 210 strikeouts (10.0 per 9) in 188.2 innings as opposing hitters have slashed just .197/.256/.304 against him.

Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco

With Jacob deGrom (0.68 ERA), Marcus Stroman (2.01 ERA), and Taijuan Walker (2.20 ERA), Mets starting pitchers have three of the top 12 ERA's in baseball, with deGrom of course No. 1.

That'll play.

It's been a bit tricky beyond deGrom, Stroman, and Walker, though.

David Peterson has shown flashes, but the overall results (5.54 ERA and 1.38 WHIP) have been uneven at best.

Meanwhile, Joey Lucchesi has struggled so badly as the No. 5 starter that the Mets have started to opt for bullpen games instead of using Lucchesi to start.

But with Noah Syndergaard starting a rehab assignment soon and expected back around the middle of June and Carlos Carrasco perhaps returning a week or two before Syndergaard, the rotation could be about to become completely dominant.

Carlos Carrasco pitching during 2021 Mets spring training.
Carlos Carrasco pitching during 2021 Mets spring training.

In case anyone has forgotten just how good Syndergaard was before his down year in 2019 right before he needed Tommy John surgery, here's a refresher:

2.93 ERA (2.66 FIP) and 1.13 WHIP with 573 strikeouts (9.9 per 9) in 518.1 innings over 87 games.

***

Put all of the above together and you get a Mets team that could not only be the favorites in the NL East, but potentially become the best team in the entire National League -- especially when you account for the early struggles of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

SNY contributor John Harper recently wrote that the 2021 Mets squad is the deepest one they have had since they went to the World Series in 2015.

I'll take it one step past that.

The 2021 Mets could be the best team they've had since the 2006 version that fell just short of reaching the World Series.

That 2006 team had a vaunted offense, but the bullpen and starting rotation was their downfall in the postseason.

In 2021, it could be the bullpen and starting rotation that helps put the Mets over the top.