Posted on September 16, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The cavalry is coming for the New York Mets, sort of. The Mets, who currently hold the second wild card spot in the National League, are poised to welcome back three players from injuries this weekend. The catch is that all three players will be limited to some extent. Nevertheless, they will be available, as the Mets are hoping to receive all the help they can get in order to secure a postseason birth and defend their National League pennant.
Center fielder Juan Lagares has been activated from the DL and will be available to play starting Friday when the Mets begin a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins. First baseman Lucas Duda may be activated from the DL as early as Saturday. But perhaps the best news is that starting pitcher Jacob deGrom has been penciled in to start New York’s series finale against the Twins on Sunday.
Lagares has not played since July 29 due to a torn ligament in his thumb. He suffered the injury in June, but after a short stint on the DL he returned to the team and attempted to play, even though the injury wasn’t fully healed. However, Lagares struggled offensively, and towards the end of July opted to undergo surgery to correct the issue.
While Lagares has made it back for the final stretch run of the season, he is not yet able to swing a bat, and so he will be relegated to duty as a pinch-runner and late-game defensive replacement. Nevertheless, Lagares is an excellent asset to have for both of those roles.
Duda, meanwhile, hasn’t played since May 20 due to a stress fracture in his back. The Mets are hoping to activate him on Saturday, although he’ll be limited to pinch hitting when he first returns. There’s no timetable on when he’ll be able to play first base, but for the time being Duda does give the Mets a power threat coming off the bench.
Finally, deGrom is set to rejoin the Mets rotation after complaining of pain in his forearm. Although he was never put on the DL, deGrom has not pitched since September 1. Just a couple of days ago, it appeared that deGrom would make his return in a relief role. However, that thinking has changed and he will now start Sunday’s game, although he will be limited to 75 pitches in his first start back.
If healthy, deGrom would be a major addition to New York’s rotation late in the season. The Mets have continued to take steps towards earning a playoff spot with Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman helping to fill in for deGrom and the Mets other injured starters, but when at the top of his game, there are few pitchers in baseball better than deGrom.
The return of Lagares and Duda give the Mets a pair of role players, but the return of deGrom is a potential game changer for them. Heading into Friday, the Mets trail the San Francisco Giants by one game for the top wild card spot and lead the St. Louis Cardinals by one game for the second wild card spot. This gives the Mets everything to play during the final two weeks of the season, and the return of all three players, particularly deGrom, can help get them back in the playoffs.