Mets fans had better keep their fingers crossed (no pun intended) that Steven Matz’s MRI results come back negative. The young southpaw took an awkward swing in the fourth inning Tuesday night that sent the bat flying into the Mets’ on-deck circle, and the resulting finger injury sent the Flushing faithful into Pre-Panic Mode.
Matz is the next in a slew of Mets players who have been bitten by the injury bug over the past week, and it couldn’t have possibly come at worse time. With Noah Syndergaard going to the DL earlier the very same day, a double-header Monday that heaped more innings on the bullpen, and a string of tough games over the next two weeks, a prolonged absence from Matz could put the Mets at a tremendous disadvantage. Not to mention a lineup that has yet to see the return of two of its top bats and is starting ::checks depth chart, sullenly shakes head:: Jose Reyes at third base.
Following the depleted Mets’ trip to Atlanta, they will host the powerful lineup of the Cubs in a four game series at Citi Field. Seth Lugo will get his first start of the season in the series opener, and though he has been tremendous out of the bullpen this year, it’s impossible to predict how he’ll perform when he’s stretched out to (hopefully) five or six innings.
At the moment, the team does not have a starter lined up for Sunday’s game against Cubs ace Jon Lester, and if Matz misses a start or more, it could fall on the shoulders of any number of unproven arms in the minors or a stretched out Robert Gsellman.
Corey Oswalt, Marcos Molina, Chris Flexen, and PJ Conlon are all 40-man options to start for the #Mets at this point. They could also put Gsellman in the rotation and maybe promote Drew Smith to the big league bullpen. I mean, I don’t freakin’ know at this point.— Michael Baron (@michaelgbaron) May 30, 2018
It’s not ideal, but this is why teams need depth. The Mets, unfortunately, lack depth everywhere but in the outfield. It was discussed constantly during the offseason, and it’s come back to haunt them a third of the way through the season.
Next week, after a quick two-game series against Baltimore, the Mets then take on one of the best teams in baseball in their crosstown rivals, the Yankees. Again, if the Mets have to deal with a Matz injury for an extended period of time, they’re at a pretty significant disadvantage against one of the best offenses in baseball.
Of course, there is a tiny glimmer of hope. Matz’s X-Rays did come back negative, and it’s still possible he makes his next start this weekend. On top of that, Anthony Swarzak and Todd Frazier are both on rehab assignments, and barring any setbacks, they could provide some much-needed reinforcements right when the team needs them the most.
The wheels appear to be right on the verge of falling off. It’s tough to hope for a little good luck when it seems like bad luck is all we’ve had for the past two years, but there’s always a chance it changes, right? One way or another, these next two weeks will likely let us know.
If you're hitting the final home game on Thursday at Citi Field, swing by the Marina Lot to see some friends, maybe meet some new ones, and responsibly wash down your sorrows before heading inside.