Injury woes are only getting worse for the Mets, but despite losing key players, NY is still clinging to the top of the NL East.
On Monday, New York went down to Atlanta for their first series against their divisional rivals.
The Mets came off a brutal sweep by the Rays in Tampa Bay, but their 7-game winning streak gave them a half-game cushion over the Phillies for 1st.
While in Tampa, New York had a few more players put on the Injured List. Both Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto suffered hamstring strains in the early innings of the final game against the Rays.
Additionally, the Mets lineup went into the road trip without JD Davis, Albert Almora, Luis Guillorme, and Brandon Nimmo. The pitching staff also had a fair share of losses, with Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Seth Lugo, and Dellin Betances on the IL.
Noah Syndergaard is still recovering after receiving Tommy John surgery, but the Mets got a much needed piece of positive news as he and Lugo are set to make their first rehab assignments.
The major league roster isn’t the only one affected by injuries. A few top prospects in the Mets farm system have also had their season cut short.
Two of the Mets’ top pitching prospects underwent season-ending surgery, 2019 3rd round pick Matt Allan and 2020 1st round selection Pete Crow-Armstrong.
The Mets announced that Allan was receiving Tommy John surgery in early May, but this week, Crow-Armstrong also underwent surgery to repair his labrum and cartilage in his shoulder.
The constant wave of injuries means that a handful of NY’s top prospects are making early MLB debuts. The Mets were forced to add outfielders Johneshwy Fargas and Khalil Lee and infielders Jake Hager and Wilfredo Tovar.
Monday night’s starter was Taijuan Walker, a gem picked up in Free Agency. He faced off against young Braves ace Max Fried. Pitching for both sides was untouchable, with only seven players reaching base in the first six innings.
Unfortunately for the Mets, Walker’s night ended after just three innings of near-perfect pitching. Walker exited due to left side discomfort and was replaced by Sean Reid-Foley.
Reid-Foley picked up where Walker left off, throwing three perfect innings in relief with five strikeouts to keep the game scoreless.
In the 7th inning, the Mets bats finally got going. Backup catcher Tomas Nido picked up his second hit of the night, the final batter faced by Fried, who threw a season-high 95 pitches.
As Fried exited and Jacob Webb came in, James McCann stepped up to pinch hit. McCann promptly doubled in the go-ahead run to break the deadlock.
Webb allowed a few more baserunners to load the bases with two outs, but it was clear that while his velocity was there, his control wasn’t.
Kevin Pillar stepped up to the plate with a chance to break the game open. Instead, the fifth pitch of the at bat hit him directly in the face, breaking open his nose.
Pillar hit the ground immediately, clutching his face as blood covered the plate. The cleanup required a lengthy delay before play resumed.
Pillar walked off the field on his own power and a CT scan confirmed multiple nasal fractures. The Mets put Pillar on the 10-day IL and he will meet with a specialist to determine the steps he should take.
“Scary moment, but I’m doing fine,” Pillar tweeted later that night, alongside the hashtags “#RBI and #GameWinner.”
Pillar’s HBP drove in the Mets’ second run, the deciding run in a 3-1 New York win.
The Mets remain a hair above Philadelphia, but with so many injuries, the next weeks will be crucial for NY as the NL East starts to heat up.