Rumor has it, one day the Mets will play again.
Not Monday, though. Or this past Sunday. Frankly, according to the forecast, this coming Thursday isn’t looking too promising, either.
The Mets, who have played five of their scheduled 10 games this season, were forced to postpone Monday’s game against the Phillies at Citi Field because of rain and will pick it up again Tuesday in a single-admission doubleheader. Game 1 will start at 4:10 and the games will be seven innings each (the weather does look good for that day).
This comes a day after Marcus Stroman threw nine pitches against the Marlins before the game was called because of rain after a delay of 2 hours, 10 minutes. That suspended game will be made up in August.
Stroman, who originally was slated to pitch Friday, played catch Monday and told manager Luis Rojas he could go sooner. He is scheduled to pitch Game 2 Tuesday, with Taijuan Walker set to start Game 1.
Compounding all these changes are the three games against the Nationals at the opening of the season that were postponed because several Washington players tested positive for COVID-19.
The result, Rojas said, is a team facing a very peculiar early-season challenge: Without enough games to play, enough adrenaline and enough time against real opposing pitchers, players sometimes struggle when they do get their chance.
"What do we do? We only have the cage available," he said before the postponement. "We have other resources to get the guys prepared, but you can’t simulate game speed . . . We’ve had some guys that have been late on fastballs. We’ve seen some guys not being able to recognize the breaking ball well. We’ve seen some relievers coming out of the chute and not being effective against the first batter."
And in the few games the Mets have played, that’s been the case over and over again. They have a .146/.351/.171 slash line with runners in scoring position (second-worst in baseball) and are hitting .222 as a whole; their bullpen has a 5.54 ERA.
The team has worked to simulate games in whatever ways it can, Rojas said, but certain things are impossible to replicate. The hope is that once things get to a more stable place, the Mets’ offense and the relievers will show more signs of life.
"You can use pitching machines to simulate breaking balls," Rojas said. "You can do short-distance batting practice to simulate velocity. You can do a high-velocity machine, too. You can do a lot of things that you would see in games that would get you moving like you’d be moving in games. it’s really tough to simulate exactly the timing mechanism and to simulate the emotions that you get in games, and that’s the part the challenge comes from."
Rojas said he’s had some indication of that in certain situations — in particular, a few chances the team has had with the bases loaded and one out.
"The only thing we’re missing,’’ he said, "is just playing games and getting more repetitions of those situations."
Stroman doubles back
The Mets originally slated Stroman for Friday because the righthander preferred not to interrupt his in-between preparation, but after the game was rained out Monday, he stepped up, Rojas said. "We want the guys to be out there and be the best version of themselves," Rojas said. "For him to come and talk to us about feeling good and going out there and pitching in a doubleheader scenario like we’re having now, it’s great to hear. I’m glad he’s stepping up for the team and doing this."
Carlos Carrasco (hamstring) is making steady progress and likely will go to the alternate site and begin simulated games soon, Rojas said . . . Seth Lugo (elbow surgery) is playing catch and hopes to get on a mound next week. Drew Smith (shoulder) also is playing catch.
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