Next Man Up Until There Ain't No More

Mets lose Conforto, McNeil, and Sunday's series finale in Tampa

Thank goodness for the New York Mets’ depth movement this winter. Every single bit of it has been needed, and then some.

So much, in fact, the Bench Mob is a thing and has actually won the Mets a few games on their own merit.

The Mets’ demand for able bodies expanded on Sunday.

Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil both exited Sunday’s game with hamstring injuries (right for Conforto, left for McNeil), and that’s just the latest wave of misfortune to crash into Queens.

Brandon Nimmo (finger) will rejoin the team this week but not participate until “100 percent pain-free”, per Mets skipper Luis Rojas.

J.D. Davis (hand) is beginning a rehab assignment with Syracuse. Noah Syndergaard (TJS) and Seth Lugo (elbow spur) are close to beginning rehab stints, themselves, but are still not what you’d consider “close”.

Albert Almora (faceplant into wall) and Luis Guillorme (oblique) are also shelved.

Jacob deGrom (lower side tightness) is on the injured list with what the team has characterized as not all that concerning but that’s a sizable hole in the overall production of the roster.

Luckily for New York, Marcus Stroman (before Sunday’s outing) and Taijuan Walker have performed as number-two starters in their own right this season and the Mets haven’t quite felt the pinch of missing Jake.

Whether that continues is to be determined, but it’s probably the least of the Mets’ concerns at this point.

Kevin Pillar, Jonathan Villar, Jose Peraza, Tomas Nido, and Patrick Mazeika have contributed their collective share to this team’s turnaround. But how long they can continue to keep this group afloat as their core pieces fall one by one?

There could very well be some new faces in Queens this week.

Hey, there was a game on Sunday, right?

No, not the Islanders (huge overtime win in Pittsburgh, though).

The Mets were looking to leave Tampa — not Tampa Bay because that’s just a body of water, not a city — with a win after dropping the first two of their weekend jaunt to Florida.

Marcus Stroman, entering his ninth start of the year on a terrific run (1.99 ERA was ninth in MLB, 56.5% groundball rate was fourth), rolled into the fourth inning scoreless but the runs came in bunches for the Rays from there.

A two-run homer off the bat off certified Queens villain Manuel Margot in the fourth put Tampa ahead 2-0 and Willy Adames went the other way with another two-run blast in the fifth to make it a 4-0 game.

Tampa left-hander Josh Fleming, making his 15th career start (2.55 ERA; 2.34 ERA over seven starts in 2021), held the Mets at bay through five (one hit, five strikeouts), but was lifted for right-hander Diego Castillo entering the sixth after just 53 pitches.

Usually getting past a dominating starter is a benchmark. Time to make a move. Not with Tampa Bay.

As the booth noted during the WPIX broadcast, this is the same team that pulled Blake Snell in the sixth inning of Game 6 in last year’s World Series despite him striking out nine with just two hits and 73 pitches on his ledger.

Last October, it was a misstep. It wasn’t much of a hurdle for the Rays on Sunday.

Patrick Mazeika — he of three runs batted in (two walk-offs) without registering his first MLB hit — finally crossed that threshold with a pull shot down the line in right field, cutting the Mets’ deficit to 4-1 in the sixth.

Brandon Lowe quickly extended the gap back to four with a solo shot off Stroman in the bottom half and that was pretty much all she wrote.

Tampa tacked two more in the eighth off Edwin Diaz (Ji-Man Choi RBI double, Margot RBI single) to make it a 7-1 game, which stood up as the final.

Some Thoughts on Joey Lucchesi

The Mets finished their day with just two hits and a noticeable amount of long faces in the dugout.

Gotta pick it up, boys. Heading to Atlanta this evening to start as big a series as a matchup in May can be on Monday.

New Simply Amazin’ drops in the morning, here and anywhere you listen to podcasts. LFGM, family.

Subscribe to the free email list or become a paid subscriber below!

Never any paywalls. Once it leaves my head, it’s yours. But if you want to pay me for my work, it’s greatly appreciated.