As the Mets prepare to wrap up a two-game series with the Marlins on Wednesday night at Citi Field, the National League East race is as tight as ever. Buck Showalter’s club is tied atop the division with the Atlanta Braves prior to a huge head-to-head matchup this weekend.
Who will be the division winner and earn a first-round bye is still to be determined. However, the Mets have already clinched their first postseason berth since 2016. Showalter went on “The Show” podcast with Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman of the New York Post to talk about that and a bunch of other things in a wide-ranging interview.
As expected, Showalter brought some humor and answered several questions by giving no actual answer at all, enabling him to keep many things close to his vest. Sherman and Heyman did their best to try and grill him on a handful of roster questions with October looming.
Mets’ bullpen situation
Edwin Diaz is having a dominant season, but how will New York continue to get the ball in his hands with a lead in the ninth inning?
The Mets have a great rotation and a great closer, and the biggest question for most teams revolves around how they’re going to bridge those two things together. Showalter talked about the great season Adam Ottavino has had.
He also thinks there are plenty of options for him coming out of the bullpen, including David Peterson and Tylor Megill. With the rotation getting fully healthy, these two hurlers have transitioned from being starters to relievers.
Scherzer or deGrom in Game 1 of a series?
Is having Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom available to pitch as often as possible — especially in a short series — something Showalter views as important? Sherman asked him that question, to which the Mets’ skipper answered, “So you’re taking [Chris] Bassitt out of that?”
Sherman rephrased by asking if Showalter would start Bassitt in Game 1 of a playoff series over Scherzer and deGrom. This was taped on Tuesday, and the veteran manager answered by saying Carlos Carrasco was pitching that night against the Miami Marlins.
Essentially, Showalter said they’ve looked at the situation and he feels fortunate to have the options available to him that he does. So, no tipping his hand there, either.
Right-handed designated hitter options
New York acquired Darin Ruf at the trade deadline specifically to be the right-handed part of a platoon at designated hitter because of his track record against left-handed pitching. Ruf’s tenure with the Mets has been… rough (sorry, I had to).
In 74 plate appearances, the veteran has slashed just .152/.216/.197 with no homers, seven RBI, and six runs scored. This performance has led to a 24 wRC+ and -0.8 fWAR. Even with these struggles, does Ruf have a shot at being on the postseason roster?
This was one question Buck actually answered, albeit indirectly. Showalter said, “I wish Darin didn’t care so much. It’s almost like you want something too much. And I find that, much like Escobar, much like some other guys I could mention…I found that when they have a track record and you stick with ’em, most of the time that’s rewarded. I’ll answer it that way.”
So, for Mets fans hoping to see less of Darin Ruf in situations he’d normally be used, don’t hold your breath. It sounds like Showalter is going to keep running him out there.
Deserving to win the World Series
The Amazins have been among baseball’s best teams all season long. Does that matter in October? Yes and no. Showalter discussed how the postseason ends up being a crapshoot on most occasions. Just because a team has shown they’re great over a six-month regular season doesn’t mean they’ll be firing on all cylinders come October.
He did end his interview by saying this, though:
“If anybody is more deserving than our guys, our players, and quite frankly, our fans, you’d have to show me because these guys deserve to be the last team standing.”
You know Mets fans — who have been waiting more than three decades for another World Series title — will agree with that assessment.
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