When it comes to Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, Mets fans feel confident those two will come through when it’s needed the most. That same trust has yet to be placed in General Manager Sandy Alderson, who often works in a passive aggressive manner (financial restrictions or not) when it comes to upgrading the roster. But this weekend, together, all three led the way in salvaging the final two games against the Dodgers.
Alderson started to change the stigma surrounding this roster with the promotion of top hitting prospect Michael Conforto on Friday night. Although one can argue it was an overdue move considering how poor, and that’s putting it lightly, this Mets offense has performed. Better late than never, I suppose. But he didn’t stop there. The news broke right around game time Friday night that Alderson had acquired Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe from the Atlanta Braves for two mid-level prospects. It may not have been the blockbuster move that fans have been craving but there is no doubting they improve this Mets roster. Each are proven veterans who have established themselves as more than capable everyday players or in an ideal scenario, provide some much-needed depth to the bench.
Conforto showed no signs of having any Major League jitters. He has recorded an RBI in his first three games and helped ignite the offense on Saturday with a 4-for-4 day while scoring four runs. Conforto displayed quickly what we’ve heard so much about him, he’s a professional hitter who uses the whole field and has a disciplined approach at the plate. Like Conforto, Johnson and Uribe wasted no time in making their presence felt. On Saturday, while playing second base and batting clean up, Johnson added two hits with one of them being a two-run home run. Uribe added a hit of his own after relieving Daniel Murphy at third base late in the game but his mark was made on Sunday. After once again relieving Murphy at third, Uribe made a crucial play on a slow roller to record the first out in the top half of the ninth. That turned into an even bigger play after the Dodgers followed that up with three straight hits to tie to the game. In the bottom of the 10th Uribe crushed a double off of the left center field wall that drove in the game winning run in walkoff fashion.
The Mets starting rotation has received no shortage of national publicity, and rightly so, as they’re loaded with some of the top young arms in all of baseball. But the debate these last few months has been who is the ace of the staff – deGrom or Harvey? It’s deGrom, and it’s not even a debate at the moment. The best part of that question is that the answer doesn’t even matter. That’s a win-win argument for the Mets as they anchor the front end of this young rotation. The only thing that matters is that they each do their part in helping the Mets win each time they take the mound. Which was the case on Saturday and Sunday.
Harvey, who has had a strong but not entirely smooth return from Tommy John Surgery, put up a solid performance on Saturday. He threw seven innings and allowed two runs while striking out four and walking only one batter. The most important thing I took away from that start was the return of his command. When Harvey has gotten into trouble lately it has been due to giving too many free passes as he is unable to locate his pitches. While deGrom was stellar once again as he squared off against Zack Greinke, the NL CY Young award favorite. DeGrom out dueled Greinke in what I felt was an important game for him to solidify himself against one of the games perennial starters. He allowed just two hits over seven innings while striking out eight as he blew away the Dodgers lineup. A blown save might have cost deGrom a W in the win column but the Mets were able to walk away with a victory in extra innings, which is all that really matters.
Considering what a roller coaster ride of season this has been for the Mets thus far, with every bit as much negativity as there has been optimism surrounding the franchise, they trail the Washington Nationals by only two games. That’s right, two games! I have to do a double take every day I check the standings when I realize the National League East is still within grasp. Conforto, Uribe and Johnson might not be the saviors – but any offensive help they can provide for deGrom, Harvey and the rest of the staff will go a long way in keeping the Mets in contention. Alderson may have helped salvaged the weekend, but it will probably take another move or two to salvage the season.