By Joe Rini
Like an understudy on Broadway, making the most of an opportunity is crucial for a player unproven on the big stage. Injuries have thrusted David Peterson, Tomas Nido, and others into bigger roles for the New York Mets. Despite these circumstances, the Mets remain in first place with timely contributions from the young Mets.
Gloom loomed over the horizon for the Mets after Max Scherzer landed on the IL with an oblique injury on May 19th. Most Mets fans saw despair with the team embarking on a challenging month-long stretch without Scherzer and Jacob deGrom. Serious injuries to Scherzer, deGrom, Tylor Megill, James McCann, Trevor May, and Scott Reid-Foley crowded the extended IL like a New York City subway car at rush hour. However, as the team’s Injured List mounted, opportunities presented themselves to their replacements.
Peterson Joins Rotation
The Mets elevated Peterson to the starting rotation after spot starting and long relieving between stints at Triple-A Syracuse. On the plus side, the Mets have won three of his four starts. However, Peterson’s pitched to mixed results since picking up a win on May 23rd against the San Francisco Giants. After pitching six effective innings against the Giants, the six-foot-six Peterson has pitched short of the five innings in three starts. Unfortunately, 11 walks in his last 15 innings speak to Peterson’s control issues. With Megill returning to the IL, Peterson needs to be more consistent. Otherwise, he could be more suited to relieving and spot starting.
Tomas Nido in Place of James McCann
Nido is making the most of his opportunity to fill in for the injured McCann behind the plate. The Mets have won 21 of Nido’s 31 starts since assuming McCann’s role on May 11th. Also, Nido’s current batting average of .227 belies his offensive contributions because he’s batting .471 with two outs and RISP. For example, he capped a four-hit performance on June 1st against the Washington Nationals with a two-RBI two-out double. More important than his offense, Nido has filled in ably behind the plate for McCann.
Big Moments by Mazeika, Medina, and Plummer
Timely contributions by Patrick Mazeika, Adonis Medina, Nick Plummer, and Colin Holderman have also kept the Mets in first place. While Mazeika and Plummer are hitting below .200 in reserve roles, they have performed in big spots. For instance, Mazeika hit a game-winning seventh-inning home run in his season debut behind the plate on May 14th against the Seattle Mariners. Plummer’s game-tying home run in the ninth inning on May 29th paved the way to a 5–4 Mets win over the Philadelphia Phillies in ten innings.
Pitching in a playoff atmosphere against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, Medina picked up his first career save on June 5th. Holderman had the most sustained success before landing on the 15-day IL this month. He opened his MLB career with eight scoreless innings across six outings. With a record of 3–0, Holderman hopes to return in late June.
Obviously, the continued success of the Mets is more due to their regulars having excellent seasons. However, baseball, more or so than superstar dominant sports like football and basketball, requires contributions from the entire roster to win.