Mets put on a fireworks display in Cincy, and the Mets are re-drawing their first ace with Max Scherzer
The Mets went 24-16 in Max Scherzer's absence - he will start tonight for the first time since May 18
Just Mets on Playback 📺
Our next live watch-along will take place tonight as MAX SCHERZER RETURNS when the Mets face the Reds at 6:40 PM ET! Watch the game and interact with hosts Andrew Claudio, Michael Baron and Rich MacLeod live on Playback!
What’s Up with the Mets? 🎇
The Mets defeated the Reds 7-4 on Monday night at Great American Ballpark (box)
The Mets got homers from Brandon Nimmo (three-run, broke an 0-for-9 stretch) and Francisco Lindor (solo), and Dominic Smith delivered a big two-run double as part of a three-run sixth inning to give the Mets breathing room
Taijuan Walker was dominant outside of one pitch to Brandon Drury in the third inning when he allowed a three-run home run - he struck out nine with only one walk over six innings for his seventh win of the season
The Mets bullpen provided three innings of one-run ball - they have allowed just three earned runs in 14.2 innings so far in July
The Mets are now 32-37 all-time on Independence Day, 24-17 on the road, 20-6 in series openers, 11-3 in series openers on the road, a perfect 46-0 when leading after eight innings, 8-3 against the National League Central, and 36-4 when scoring five or more runs
Injury Updates 🏥
Travis Jankowski (broken hand) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse on Friday - he went 1-for-2 with a walk and played center field
Mets manager Buck Showalter indicated Jacob deGrom is now on a five-day schedule in his pitching routine - he felt fine after his first rehab start on Sunday in Port St. Lucie
Who’s Hot 🔥
While he snapped his home run streak on Monday, Eduardo Escobar did drive in a run with an RBI single in the seventh inning to extend his hitting streak to four games - he is 5-for-16 with three homers and seven RBI during that span
Taijuan Walker has won each of his last four decisions, a span of five starts - he has a 2.25 ERA with just 24 hits allowed against seven walks with 36 strikeouts in 32 IP during that span. Overall, Walker has allowed just four home runs in 78.1 IP this season
Since returning from the minor leagues, Dominic Smith is 7-for-21 with four doubles and two RBI, a span of nine games
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (50-30) vs. Reds (27-52)
Where: Great American Ballpark — Cincinnati, OH
Starters: RHP Max Scherzer (5-1, 2.54 ERA) vs LHP Nick Lodolo (1-2, 5.52 ERA)
When: 6:40 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
Re-enter Max Scherzer… 📝
It’s hard to believe the Mets are pacing for 101 wins in 2022 through the club’s first 80 games with eight combined starts from Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer.
In their absences, the Mets dealt with inconsistent performances from Chris Bassitt and Carlos Carrasco and have been forced to piece together two rotation spots from a combination of Tylor Megill, Thomas Szapucki, Trevor Williams, and David Peterson. While it hasn’t been pretty at times from this group in general, they performed admirably given the conditions (especially Peterson, who will likely remain in the rotation at least until deGrom returns) and kept the train going on the mound despite the rotation’s middle-of-the-road 4.09 ERA through 80 games.
Honestly, given 72 of those 80 games have been started by people other than deGrom and Scherzer, a 4.09 ERA from the rotation is pretty good.
It’s hard to believe Peterson and Taijuan Walker have been their best and most consistently reliable arms in the rotation over the season’s first half. But they have thanks to re-discovered sliders from both and a refined split-change/slider combination from Walker in particular.
Yet, in Scherzer’s absence anyway the Mets have been able to keep their heads above water and then some - the Mets went 24-16 in Scherzer’s absence and 13-12 in their toughest part of their 2022 schedule in June. It’s hard to believe they’d lose seven games in the standings during that span given their record but a hat tip is owed to the Braves who are 23-7 since June 1 (10-7 since their incredible 14 game winning streak). There was no way that roster was staying under .500 and they have ascending right into the thick of the race in the NL East.
But now, Scherzer is back. Sanity is being restored to what has been a chaotic seven weeks in the Mets rotation when at times, they ran out of bodies to give them innings.
Scherzer will get the ball against the Reds tonight in his first start since he left his start prematurely on May 18 against the Cardinals when his oblique went lame on him. It’s not the easiest of assignments given the venue and it’s propensity for home runs, but this is Max Scherzer, future hall of famer, and his presence on the field is an intangible most players don’t possess which simply makes the Mets better, as we all know.
On top of that, it takes Williams out of the rotation and presumably puts him back into the long relief/swing man role he tends to excel in - he has a 2.00 ERA in eight relief appearances so far in 2022.
The rotation is better and the bullpen is conceivably better - it’s a win/win for the Mets.
Scherzer likely has some more ramping up to do before he is able to give the Mets consistent length. They have to be mindful of his oblique as well, so his first few starts will come with some TLC as he continues to work his way back into being the Scherzer the Mets ultimately need him to be.
But as the Mets massage Scherzer’s situation, they will have their eye on their other ace in deGrom, as he gets closer to making his 2022 debut. That appears to be on-track for late July.
The Scherzer/deGrom dynamic duo is the scenario the Mets have been dreaming about since the end of November and sorely need as the pennant race begins to heat up. And that dream will hopefully emerge into a reality in short order.
If that does finally transpire and both are healthy and pitching to the back of the baseball card (and that will remain an, “if” until it becomes a reality), that’s just a delicious prospect to contemplate.
But for now, the first box is checked and the Mets have re-drawn their first ace for the second half poker game. Soon, they’ll have a pair of aces for the final regular season hand in 2022.
Down on the Farm 🌾
Francisco Álvarez (C, No. 1 Prospect, Triple-A debut): 1-for-3, BB, RBI
Brett Baty (3B, No. 2 Prospect, Double-A): 2-for-4
Junior Santos (RHP, No. 16 Prospect, Single-A): 7 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K
Around the League 🚩
The Braves won a rain-delayed contest in Atlanta with the Cardinals thanks in part to a five-spot in the second inning - they kept pace with the Mets in the NL East, trailing by 3.5 games
The Marlins won their fifth game in a row with a 3-2 win over the Nationals to pull to within 4.5 games of the third wild card
The Tigers swept a doubleheader from the Guardians in Detroit, pushing Cleveland back to 3.5 games behind the Twins in the AL Central
The Twins turned a triple play in their 6-3 win over the White Sox in Chicago on Monday
The Diamondbacks don’t appear inclined to deal RHP Zac Gallen at the trade deadline but could be looking to deal LHP Madison Bumgarner (USA Today)
The Diamondbacks placed RHP Ian Kennedy on the injured list with a calf injury, potentially impacting his value ahead of the trade deadline
Veteran LHP David Price is leaning towards retirement after the 2022 season (Orange County Register)