The new guys shine, Edwin Díaz reaches new heights, and the Mets finally have a manager built for this stage
Newcomers Tyler Naquin and Daniel Vogelbach combine to hit three home runs as the Mets take a huge division win from the Braves.
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾
The Mets defeated the Braves 6-4 in the opening game of their five game series (Box)
Tyler Naquin homered twice in his first home game as a Met — per the Elias Sports Bureau, Naquin is the first Mets player ever to have a multi-home run game in their first home game with the team. The last player in MLB to have two or more home runs in first home game with team was Eric Sogard on August 3, 2019 with the Rays
Naquin joined Rajai Davis (5/22/2019) and Aaron Altherr (5/24/2019) as the only Mets players to homer in their first at-bat at Citi Field
Pete Alonso and Daniel Vogelbach crushed back-to-back home runs in the third inning
Aside from James McCann, every New York starter reached base at least once
Carlos Carrasco earned his team-leading 12th win, allowing three runs (two of which was on a two-run home run from Ronald Acuña, Jr.) in six innings
For the first time in his career, Edwin Díaz recorded a six-out save, allowing just a hit with three strikeouts over two innings
The Mets are now 5-3 against Atlanta, 32-17 at home, 27-7 in series openers, 12-4 in series openers at home, 51-11 when scoring first, 58-0 when leading after 8, 34-13 in the National League East, and 48-4 when scoring five or more runs
Who’s Hot 🔥
In five games since joining the Mets, Tyler Naquin is hitting .333 with two homers, a double, and a triple
In 10 games since joining the Mets, Daniel Vogelbach is slashing .333/.474/.600 with two doubles and two homers and five RBI
Edwin Díaz hasn’t allowed a run in his last 16 outings—striking out 34 batters (59 percent) across 16.1 frames in that timespan
Pete Alonso has 91 RBI and has driven in seven runs in his last five games - he trails Aaron Judge by only two RBI for the Major League lead
Roster Moves 📰
Activated C James McCann from the injured list
Optioned C Patrick Mazeika to Triple-A Syracuse
Injury Updates 🏥
Dominic Smith (ankle sprain) went 0-for-1 with a run and two walks, playing five innings at first base for Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday
Playoff Odds Tracker 🎲
The Mets lead the Braves by 4.5 games in the National League East with 57 games to go. They are on-pace for 103 wins which would be their highest mark since 1986 (108):
Playoff odds (FanGraphs):
Make the playoffs: 100 percent ↔️
Win the National League East: 81.6 percent ⬆️
Clinch first round bye: 80.9 percent ⬆️
Win the World Series: 16 percent ⬆️
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (67-38) at Braves (63-43)
Where: Citi Field - Flushing, New York
Starters: RHP Taijuan Walker (9-2 2.79 ERA) vs RHP Ian Anderson (9-6, 4.99 ERA)
When: 7:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
Buck Showalter’s managerial style is ready for October📝
The Mets have made a lot of additions in the past year. Splashy ones like Max Scherzer and Starling Marte, solid and steady ones like Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar, and underrated midseason pick-ups like Daniel Vogelbach and Tyler Naquin.
But one of the biggest upgrades New York made prior to the season is the guy in the dugout.
Manager Buck Showalter has given the Mets a four month masterclass on how to deploy his players and keep everyone happy, fresh and involved. Nobody has a better understanding of everything that is happening during a game, and Showalter is never at risk of being outclassed by his counterpart in the opposite dugout.
But what we’ve seen recently is how—despite the way he continually downplays some games/series being bigger than others—Buck understands when a win is more than just a win, and isn’t afraid to push the pedal to the metal on those nights.
I first felt that way in the series opener with the Yankees a week and a half ago. After getting six strong innings from Taijuan Walker and owning a two run lead, Buck went to his top set-up man, Adam Ottavino, in the seventh. After successfully navigating that frame, Ottavino was sent back to the mound for the 8th, but when the tying run game to the plate with two outs, he was quick to summon Edwin Díaz for the four-out save.
Last night was similar but the other way around and in a game far more meaningful in defining the shape of the race in the National League East.
After six innings from Carlos Carrasco, Showalter again went to Ottavino in the seventh but the veteran was not at the top of his game. The Braves pushed one across to get within two and with their best hitters coming up in the eighth, Díaz was summoned and came in the game an inning early.
After getting Atlanta in order with a pair of strikeouts, it was clear Showalter did not want to have to go to anyone else, and asked his closer to finish the game. It was the first time in his career he’s registered a six-out save.
The most important lesson in all of that is Showalter is clearly ready for October, and he’s not afraid to push his best pitchers to secure wins he covets when the time is right for it.
But Thursday was one of those days considering the opponent and magnitude of the moment.
For the entirety of the first half the veteran skipper used his pitchers and his regular line-up for that matter judiciously, understanding he would need to be able to push them down the stretch. There are games throughout the baseball calendar when he needs to manage the stamina and strength of his bullpen and rest his best relievers for another day.
And yesterday’s game and moment on the baseball calendar is the reason why he saved longer save chances for Díaz for another day.
That’s part of what the Mets got when they hired Showalter—his undeniable experience navigating a full 162-game season has taught him how to handle his roster and manage his bullpen depending on the time of year.
This month is when the Mets have an opportunity to build their National League East lead back. Thursday was one of 16 days the Mets will tangle with the Braves and Phillies over the next 18 days. Showalter undoubtedly recognizes this and will go to the whip with his best guys with the intention of being able to take the foot off the gas a little in September ahead of what will hopefully be a long October run.
In the meantime, it’s important to understand how fortunate the Mets are to have Showalter in the dugout, and this team is unquestionably in better managerial hands than they’ve been in a long, long time.
Down on the Farm 🌾
Brett Baty (3B, No. 3 Prospect, Double-A): 2-for-2, 2 HR, 4 RBI
Dominic Smith (1B, MLB Rehab Assignment, Triple-A): 0-for-1, 2 BB, 1 R
Alex Ramirez (CF, No. 4 Prospect, Single-A): 2-for-4, 2 RBI, 2B, 1 R
Box Scores: Triple-A | Double-A | Single-A | Low-A
Around the League 🚩
Incredibly, the Angels hit seven home runs and LOST to Oakland 8-7
Former Met JD Davis homered against Clayton Kershaw (who left the game early with a back injury) in the Giants 5-3 loss to the Dodgers
Juan Soto doubled and tripled in his second game as a Padre, but it wasn’t enough as San Diego fell 7-3 to the Rockies
The Cardinals swept a doubleheader from the Cubs while the Brewers were swept in their three-game series against the Pirates - the two teams are now tied atop the National League Central
Justin Verlander threw six shutout innings against the Guardians in the Astros’ 6-0 win in Cleveland - with Verlander now at the 130-inning mark, his 2023 option is automatically triggered