Is it time for Mark Vientos? Early trade targets, and a potential return date for deGrom
The Mets are in need of an injection of offense at third base, which has produced a .658 OPS so far in 2022
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾
The Mets were off Thursday as they prepare for a three-game weekend series against the Marlins in Miami
New York is showing early interest in trading for Reds RHP Luis Castillo (Heyman)
The Mets expect ace RHP Jacob deGrom back a few weeks before the trade deadline—essentially right at the All-Star break (Martino)
RHP Max Scherzer, RHP Carlos Carrasco, and IF/OF Jeff McNeil were among the Mets to work out at the University of Miami Thursday (Canes Baseball)
Roster Moves 📰
RHP Seth Lugo was activated from the paternity list
RHP Yoan Lopez was sent back to Syracuse
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (45-26) @ Marlins (32-36)
Where: LoanDepot Park — Miami, Florida
Starters: RHP Taijuan Walker (5-2, 2.88 ERA) vs RHP Sandy Alcantara (7-2, 1.72 ERA)
When: 6:40 PM EDT
Where to Watch: WPIX
It might be time for Mark Vientos to get his chance… 📝
The Mets have been in first place since the very first day of the 2022 season, and for the last couple of weeks they’ve had the best record in the National League.
But that doesn’t mean they haven’t had their own share of issues.
Through the first 71 games of their season, New York has gotten only eight combined starts from their two ace starting pitchers, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. Other key Mets like Tylor Megill, Trevor May, and James McCann have spent significant time on the injured list, and now Carlos Carrasco’s status is questionable with a tight back, leaving them in shorter both in depth and talent in their starting rotation.
But while most of the Mets injury issues have come on the mound, I’d like to talk about their offense for a moment.
An off-day Thursday left folks plenty of time to stew over the Mets’ loss on Wednesday afternoon—particularly the most important part of the game. With the Mets trailing 5-3 with the bases loaded and one out, New York had Eduardo Escobar and Dom Smith coming up. Escobar proceeded to pop up and Smith struck out to end the threat - the Mets never sniffed another opportunity.
Coming into the season, the switch-hitting Escobar was a guy the Mets had high hopes for after inking him to a two-year contract to play third base. But his first two plus months in Queens have left a lot to be desired. In just shy of 250 at-bats, Escobar is slashing just .231/.291/.393 and his bat has appeared slow at times. JD Davis has become the Mets primary designated hitter, and while his high exit velocities have been well documented, his .681 OPS has dramatically plummeted from the .820 mark he posted in 2021. The aforementioned Smith has spent the last month of the season in the minor leagues after he underperformed in the early part of the season as well.
That trio has combined to occupy two starting spots in the Mets lineup on a daily basis over the course of the first 71 games—third base and DH. Overall, Mets third basemen have produced a .658 OPS in 2022, their designated hitters have combined for a .697 OPS.
Those marks simply need to improve.
However, the Mets could have an immediate, internal solution to these two problems.
Right-handed slugging 3B Mark Vientos was the Mets second-round pick in the 2017 June amateur draft, and he’s steadily hit his way through the Mets minor league system. While he struggled in April, Vientos has been absolutely raking over the last two months - since the start of May he’s hit .313 with 10 home runs and 23 RBI for Triple-A Syracuse. He is the club’s fifth-best prospect, according to MLB.com.
His performance this season - especially recently - warrants a promotion to the big leagues.
Now, in no way can Vientos be expected to come to the Mets and immediately transform these problems into solutions. There are growing pains to be expected for most every player, especially that which brings said player to the big leagues and in New York at that where the spotlight is at it’s brightest and the pressure is at it’s highest.
But bringing Vientos up would inject youth into the mix and perhaps a short-term boost offensively. It might also offer an opportunity for other clubs to see what Vientos could be at the big league level ahead of the August 2 trade deadline.
At this point, given their struggles at third and their proximity to the trade deadline (it’s still nearly six weeks away), it would be an excellent time to find out exactly what the club has in it’s most big league ready offensive prospect right now.
Vientos would unquestionably take at-bats away from all of the aforementioned Escobar, Smith and Davis - if he’s here, he has to play and has to start. But gone are the days where this team should be more concerned with player feelings than on field performance.
Most importantly, there is no downside to trying this now. And given the questions the Mets have on their pitching staff, they may need to dedicate primary resources to finding solutions there in the trade market, rather than in their lineup.
And who knows? Maybe he would be just what the doctor ordered for their problems at these positions.
If it becomes evident Vientos needs more seasoning, he would get sent back to Triple-A anyway and the club would restore Escobar as their primary third baseman go back to the merry-go-round at designated hitter (they’ve had 11 of them so far this season) while they refine their strategy ahead of the trade deadline.
But before looking outside the organization, how about just looking to upstate New York, where there is a potential impact bat already in the system?
Down on the Farm 🌾
Brett Baty (3B, No. 2 prospect, Double-A) 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
Nick Dini (C, Triple-A) 2-for-5, grand slam, 5 RBI
Mike Vasil (RHP, No. 21 prospect, Single-A) 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 5 K
Around the League 🚩
Dansby Swanson crushed two homers to help the Braves complete a series victory over San Francisco
The Yankees rallied twice from three run deficits, scoring four runs in the ninth to walk-off the Astros in the Bronx on Thursday night
The Dodgers blasted five homers and scored 10 runs in a win over the Reds
Texas traded utility man Willie Calhoun to the Giants in exchange for outfielder Austin Slater
The Brewers topped the Cardinals 6-4 to pull dead even with St. Louis in the NL Central
Phenom Adley Rutschman homered and drove in three for the O’s in Chicago against the White Sox