Steven Matz, Juan Uribe uncertain to play in postseason; Mets get swept by Phillies
Uncertainty is hovering over the Mets, whose postseason plans could be shaped by injuries to Steven Matz and Juan Uribe and by the path of a hurricane that could rain havoc on the final series of the regular season.
Uribe was sent to New York amid concerns that his chest injury has shown "very little" improvement, manager Terry Collins said before Thursday's 3-0 loss to the Phillies.
The possibility remains that Uribe, the owner of two World Series rings, might not be healthy in time for the start of the Division Series against the Dodgers next Friday.
The prognosis appeared somewhat more promising for Matz, the former Ward Melville star who showed some improvement from lingering back stiffness that forced the Mets to scratch him twice from a scheduled start this week. For Matz to solidify a spot on the postseason roster, he must prove he's healthy enough to pitch this weekend against the Nationals.
"He's better," said Collins, who was optimistic about his chances of pitching. "The medication he got Thursday has made a big difference."
With the forecast calling for heavy rain, however, pitching over the weekend might not be entirely within Matz's control.
The oncoming storm already has altered the Mets' plans. Thursday's game had been scheduled for 7:05 p.m., but the teams agreed to a 12:05 start to beat the approaching rain.
Before a crowd that barely cracked four figures, a Mets lineup missing most of its starters struck out 10 times in seven innings against rookie Jerad Eickhoff. Darin Ruf and Andres Blanco homered as the Phillies finished a three-game sweep.
"There's some things we need to clean up," said David Wright, who was given a day off along with Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda.
The Mets are tied with the Dodgers in the battle for home-field advantage in the NLDS. But the focus remains mostly on getting to the Division Series in one piece, wherever it may begin.
Cespedes insisted he would have been available to play on Thursday, one day after being struck on the left hand with a fastball. The plunking left him with bruised middle and ring fingers, although X-rays came back negative, a fortuitous break for the Mets.
Cespedes likely will be given Friday night off, too, along with shortstop Wilmer Flores, who was pulled from Wednesday night's game with back spasms. "Hopefully, it goes away soon," Flores said. "I'm not too worried."
Uribe's situation seemed far more troubling. He has pinch hit only twice since Sept. 20, when he left a game after bruising his chest while diving for a ball. He aggravated the injury while taking a swing last Friday and hasn't played since, with discomfort and soreness spreading to his shoulder.
"He could be a key factor," Collins said of Uribe, a righthanded hitter whose availability is important against a lefty-heavy Dodgers staff.
Matz last pitched Sept. 24 before his back issue prompted the Mets to scrub his start on Wednesday. If he doesn't pitch this weekend, any potential playoff start would come on more than two weeks' rest, a situation the Mets would rather avoid.
"The biggest thing is how he comes out of that game [physically]," Collins said of Matz, who is 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA in four starts since ending a nearly two-month DL stint because of a partially torn lat muscle.
The Mets have until 10 a.m. on the day of NLDS Game 1 to set their postseason roster. Given their uncertainty, they may need every minute.