Mets vs. Braves: 5 things to watch during three-game series in Atlanta

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Pete Alonso Kevin Pillar at home plate on road May 2021
Pete Alonso Kevin Pillar at home plate on road May 2021

The Mets and Atlanta Braves play a three-game series in Atlanta starting on Monday.

Here are five things to watch...

How are the Mets' walking wounded?

The Mets entered their weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays missing one quarter of their starting lineup and left it missing one half.

In addition to Brandon Nimmo (back with the Mets getting treatment after feeling pain during a rehab assignment) and J.D. Davis (set to begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday), the Mets are now without Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil, who suffered hamstring injuries on Sunday.

The expectation is that Conforto will land on the IL, while McNeil might be able to avoid it.

No matter what happens, the Mets will almost certainly need position player reinforcements from the minors before Monday's game.

Who gets the ball for the Mets on Tuesday night?

Tuesday's game will be another tall task for the Mets when it comes to how they'll cobble things together on the mound.

Speaking on Saturday after Joey Lucchesi was hit hard by the Rays in his "bulk inning" stint, manager Luis Rojas said Lucchesi would likely pitch again before Jacob deGrom is activated from the IL. But that decision will likely be made by the Mets' front office.

And it's very hard to argue that Lucchesi should be anything more than a mop-up option at this point.

If the Mets go with an opener/bullpen game on Tuesday, they can use someone like Drew Smith or Tommy Hunter to start and seek bulk innings from Robert Gsellman or Sean Reid-Foley.

If they go with a traditional starter, Jordan Yamamoto and Thomas Szapucki are among the options.

How soon is help on the way?

If Davis starts his rehab assignment on Tuesday as expected, it's feasible that he could return by Thursday. But perhaps the weekend series against the Marlins in Miami would be a likelier scenario.

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

As far as Nimmo, the Mets are waiting until the pain in his finger subsides before determining next steps.

James McCann's struggles

With the Mets playing without so many key offensive players, the deep struggles of James McCann have not helped.

Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith haven't been on fire by any means, but they've made legitimate contributions.

McCann, on the other hand, has one extra-base hit this season ( a home run) and is hitting .200/.262/.232 in 103 plate appearances over 28 games.

If McCann's hitting doesn't improve relatively soon, the Mets -- despite how valuable McCann has been for the pitching staff -- will have to start thinking about giving Tomas Nido more opportunities to start.

What's the plan for Jacob deGrom?

DeGrom won't pitch during the series in Atlanta, but his status is hovering over things.

It is expected that deGrom will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday before potentially being activated from the IL this weekend against the Marlins in Miami.

Per Rojas, it is also possible that deGrom will make a rehab start before being activated.