WASHINGTON — The Mets at least kept it interesting through September.
By that we don’t mean an interesting playoff run, but still worth watching. With 3.5 weeks to go before they likely play their last game of 2023, here’s a guide to what’s keeping the Mets watchable:
It took until Tuesday for the Mets to assemble their rookie quartet of Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, Mark Vientos and Ronny Mauricio in the starting lineup.
How often will we see this foursome in the roster over the past 3.5 weeks?
Wednesday recalled the various factors at play, as Alvarez was on the bench against the Nationals despite hitting a three-run homer the night before.
The Mets are aware of Alvarez’s workload and are looking to keep the rookie receiver cool down this stretch.
Manager Buck Showalter also admitted he was walking a tightrope trying to get rookie playing time and fielding his best team for playoff run integrity.
“It’s a challenge, because I try to be fair to the teams that rely on us to play,” Showalter said before the Mets’ 3-2 loss to the Nationals. “If you look at our schedule for the rest, almost all (opponents) are there, unless something changes. But the tiebreaker is always going to be best for the Mets and our players, so you try to do a bit of both as much as you can.
For the love of Pete
Pete Alonso has homered three times in his last three games, bringing his season total to 42. Matt Olson leads MLB with 46 and Shohei Ohtani is next with 44. Kyle Schwarber was right behind Alonso with 41.
A month ago, the idea of Alonso having a shot at the MLB home run title didn’t sound great, but with 11 home runs in 28 games, the Mets first baseman had become a factor. .
Alonso wore the crown in 2019, when he set a rookie record with 53 homers. There is no reason to doubt his chances of turning 50 this season and possibly finishing first again.
The Japanese right-hander took over from Jacob deGrom as the starting pitcher whose turn in the rotation is generating excitement.
Once Upon a Time was Matt Harvey’s Day, followed in recent years by Grom’s Day. It is now Senga day.
Senga’s next round comes Friday night in Minnesota, where he will look to follow up the dominating start he had against the Mariners, in which he tied a career high with 12 strikeouts.
After hitting a 2.68 ERA in his nine starts since the All-Star break, Senga has basically answered the question (in a positive way) of whether he’s capable of leading a rotation.
The optics of Edwin Diaz now traveling with the Mets suggests the closest All-Star will be able to pitch this season if he meets prescribed criteria in his rehabilitation from patellar tendon surgery.
Diaz stepping into Timmy Trumpet’s ‘Narco’ in the final home game of the year would be a feel-good moment in an otherwise lost season for the Mets, but provided there is no doubt that be physically ready.
If not, Diaz can wait until the start of the Grapefruit League in February to start showing he’s back.
DJ Stewart was a terrific second-half story for the Mets as a player who came out of nowhere to eventually position himself for a spot on the team next season.
Stewart has homered nine since Aug. 15, which ties him for fourth in MLB over that span.
Even if he doesn’t match up, seeing Stewart finally reach his potential — he was a first-round pick of the Orioles in 2015 — has added some flavor to this home stretch.