As the Mets sat at home on a weekend when they were supposed to reach the halfway point of their season, they wondered along with everybody else: When will they play again?
That remained among the unanswered questions into Sunday evening as the Mets were stuck in coronavirus purgatory. MLB had not released results from Saturday and Sunday COVID-19 testing — the Thursday and Friday rounds included no new positives — but the Mets said Saturday night that everyone in the traveling party would continue to isolate and be tested daily.
Neither Brodie Van Wagenen nor anyone else from the Mets has publicly commented on the Mets’ situation since it began Thursday afternoon.
All that uncertainty left the Mets, Yankees and Marlins wondering what their schedules are for this week — highly unusual during normal times but part of the routine during this pandemic season. The Mets became the fourth team in four weeks to have their season halted by positive coronavirus tests when they incurred two positives, one player and one coach, on Thursday.
The Mets have four games to make up: one against the Marlins and three against the Yankees. This week they are scheduled to play the Marlins at Citi Field (Tuesday-Thursday) and the Yankees at Yankee Stadium (Friday-Sunday) — and MLB might add some of the four missed contests to that slate.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he expects the Yankees and Mets to play at least one and maybe two doubleheaders next weekend. Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said he also expects a doubleheader this week and his club still intends to travel from Washington to New York after playing the Nationals on Monday night.
But all of that is, of course, subject to change.
“Our expectation is they’re on our schedule to open up Tuesday night, so we’re expecting that we have a three-game series with the Mets until we hear otherwise,” Hill told reporters Sunday morning. “The expectation would also be that at some point, given the fact that this is the (last) series of the year versus the Mets, that if we are indeed playing that, we would have to make up that lost game from Thursday. We’re awaiting more information from Major League Baseball, but that would be the expectation.”
September brings more options for whatever makeups the Mets can’t squeeze into this week.
The Mets have one mutual day off with Miami: Sept. 3. But the Marlins likely want to save that date if possible, since it is their only day off all month. Already, they are scheduled to play 30 games in 27 days in September. That includes four doubleheaders, the result of their coronavirus outbreak that began in late July and reached more than half of the active roster.
The Mets have two mutual days off with the Yankees: Sept. 3 and Sept. 14. Both of those would be candidates for the last Subway Series game or two.
Meanwhile, results from around the National League over the weekend offered a reminder: This temporary coronavirus stoppage is hardly a hindrance to their postseason aspirations, even if the Mets play an even more condensed schedule these final five weeks.
Remember, the playoff field is expanded to 16 teams this year, eight from each league. And the Mets, frozen at 12-14, are very much in the wild-card discussion.
The NL East in particular is ripe with mediocrity. The Braves are on top at 16-12. The 11-11 Marlins are second, followed by the Mets. Then the Nationals (11-14), who recently lost Stephen Strasburg for the season, and the Phillies (10-14), whose historically ineffective bullpen motivated the front office to make multiple trades for relievers.
The top two teams in each division are guaranteed a playoff spot. Of the remaining nine NL teams, the top two also go to the postseason. For the Mets, infected or not, a spot is there for the taking if they can straighten out their own performance — once they start playing again.