At no point on Tuesday did Terry Collins say he was praying for rain. But with a roster being held together by training tape, it didn’t take an FBI profiler to see that the beleaguered Mets manager wouldn’t mind a rainout.
A few hours later, a rainout came to pass for the scheduled series opener against the Braves. The game will be made up as part of a single-admission doubleheader Sept. 25, the Braves’ next trip into Citi Field.
For the Mets, the gray skies and steady rain proved to be a break, with slugging leftfielder Yoenis Cespedes among those who could use an extra day of rest. Although Cespedes was in the starting lineup, Collins made it clear that wet and blustery conditions would have been enough to scratch him.
“If we play in these conditions, you’d be in leftfield before Cespedes tonight,” Collins said to a reporter.
It didn’t come to that. Cespedes got another night’s rest. He hasn’t played since Thursday, when he injured his hamstring on the basepaths against the Phillies.
Catcher Travis d’Arnaud was in the starting lineup for the first time since Wednesday. He also got a bonus breather for his right wrist, which has been sore enough to limit him to pinch hitting. A night off also didn’t hurt shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who has been nursing hamstring and ankle injuries. He had been in the starting lineup against the Braves.
Cabrera also was among those who got an off day on the last road trip, part of Collins’ plan to be more liberal with breathers as a way to reduce the kind of injuries that became a nuisance last season. Of course, the Mets are reliving the same nightmare, part of the reason they’ve started a season of high expectations with an 8-11 record.
“There are those times when nothing you do works,” said Collins, who has watched the Mets drop eight of nine. “That’s just personal frustration more than anything else. You realize that it happens to everybody.”
Robert Gsellman (0-1, 5.09 ERA) was scheduled to start Tuesday. Instead, the fifth starter will be bumped through this turn in the rotation, though he’ll be available out of the bullpen for the next few days. Gsellman was coming off his best start of the season, a no-decision last Wednesday against the Phillies, in which he allowed three runs in a season-long seven innings.
Staff ace Noah Syndergaard (1-1, 1.73) starts Wednesday night for the Mets, who will stay on turn. Matt Harvey (2-0, 2.84) pitches Thursday, with Jacob deGrom starting Friday’s series opener at Washington.
The Braves pushed back their entire rotation. Julio Teheran (1-1, 3.52) will start Wednesday. He is 7-3 with a 2.21 ERA in 16 games against the Mets. As result of the reshuffling, knuckleballer and former Mets Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey (1-2, 3.86) was bumped back to Thursday’s series finale.
The rain scrubbed the first head-to-head matchup between Syndergaard and Dickey, who were traded for each other in the winter of 2012 in a deal that also sent d’Arnaud from the Blue Jays to the Mets.
Notes & quotes: Michael Conforto was in the starting lineup in centerfield, a sign perhaps that Collins could keep using him in the outfield. Jay Bruce was penciled in at first base, an alignment that could be intriguing with Lucas Duda on the DL with a hyperextended left elbow. “He’s bound and determined to show everybody that he should be in the lineup,” Collins said of Conforto, who is hitting .379 with four homers and six RBIs in eight starts this season . . . Jeurys Familia will get the call in save situations, Collins said, ending an unofficial easing-in period following the closer’s return from suspension Thursday.