The Mets had a horrible, no good, very terrible time of it during their weekend stay in Atlanta to play the Braves. The National League East title went from being in the palm of their hands to all but likely out of reach. Atlanta put on a clinic in every aspect of the game. As New York’s offense sputtered, one had to wonder about Starling Marte and when he’ll be coming back.
Will Marte’s return fix everything about the Mets’ offense? Who knows, but New York has been missing the All-Star right-fielder since he fractured his finger in Pittsburgh about a month ago.
Manager Buck Showalter has mentioned this injury is more of a pain tolerance issue. It’ll also depend on Marte being able to hold/grip a baseball and bat. After all, those are two important things for a pro baseball player to do.
As New York prepares for its final regular-season series of the year at Citi Field against the Washington Nationals, Monday will be an important day for Marte. As reported by Newsday‘s Tim Healey:
Today could be a big day for Starling Marte, who is supposed to try swinging with two hands (and perhaps grip/throw a baseball).
He’s been unable to do those things since fracturing his right middle finger almost a month ago. https://t.co/JR6D21dXk4
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) October 3, 2022
Every time Buck gives an update on Marte, it’s been pretty much the same thing. His finger is healing and the swelling/soreness is getting better, but he’s been unable to grip a ball or bat. So, the outfielder giving this another try on Monday in Queens will be telling about his immediate future with the club for this season.
It’d be awesome if it goes well. However, merely gripping a bat is not the same as swinging it and withstanding contact with a pitch that’s traveling at least 90 miles per hour. The same thing can be said about his status on defense. Gripping the ball is great because it’s progressing in the right direction, but how does it feel to throw the ball?
The Mets still have a shot at the NL East title, but they need to sweep the Nationals and the Braves need to be swept by the Marlins. The likelihood of that happening is quite small. FanGraphs actually gives this scenario a 2.0% chance of happening prior to Monday night’s action.
Since Atlanta has played at a 114-win pace since the start of June, virtually every Met fan on Earth would probably say those odds are quite generous.
So, with the Mets likely being the top NL Wild Card team, they’ll be preparing to host a best-of-three postseason series at Citi Field starting on Friday. There’s a heckuva lot that has to happen between Monday and Friday to give Marte even a shot at taking a spot on New York’s postseason roster. It’s not impossible and it’d be encouraging if he can grip a ball and bat on Monday, but it still feels like a longshot.
The more realistic scenario would probably be seeing Marte back and ready to play for the Division Series if the Mets advance. Either way, they miss him dearly. Not only as a table-setter with Brandon Nimmo at the top of the order but also because his presence allows New York’s lineup to be much deeper and more dynamic.