The Mets stumbled in the final two games of their series with the San Diego Padres as their road trip record dipped to 3-4. However, the greatest loss was that of Pete Alonso and Starling Marte.
The Mets received good news Wednesday on Alonso and Marte. Both players’ MRI’s coming back negative. However, hours later, the Mets were once again buried by the Padres early, as they roughed up Chris Bassitt and later Stephen Nogosek, cruising to a 13-2 victory.
With Max Scherzer, Jacob Degrom, Tylor Megill, and Trevor May all down, the Mets have managed to patchwork themselves to the best record in the National League.
As the hits keep on coming, the team got a glimpse into a world without two of their most important offensive pieces. Given the team’s injury history, here is one-hitter, one starting pitcher, and one relief pitcher that the Mets could target at the trade deadline to improve their depth.
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Andrew Benintendi, OF Kansas City Royals
The Royals were foolish to ever believe they were only a piece or two away from competing for a playoff spot last year. The team went 74-88 in 2021 and currently has the worst record in baseball at 18-37. Man, that feels good to write after the 2015 World Series…
But the Royals pulled the trigger anyway on a trade that brought former Boston Red Sox Andrew Benintendi to what they believed would be a competing club. While the Royals have been dreadful the past year and a half, Benintendi continues to be an excellent player.
Through 200 at-bats this year, the right-handed-hitting outfielder has slashed .315/.382/.405 to go along with a 1.6 WAR. Benintendi has an OPS+128 and is performing better than his career averages as far as BB%, K%, and hard-hit %.
After winning a gold glove in left field last season, Benintendi has spent all of his time there in 53 games this year. To keep Starling Marte, Brandon Nimmo, and Mark Canha healthy, the Mets could look to acquire Benintendi, a free agent, after 2023. Though Nick Plummer has filled in serviceably for a Travis Jankowski, adding a playoff-tested player like Benintendi, who brings a high on base percentage, speed, and quality defense, could behoove the Mets down the stretch.
Drew Smyly, SP Chicago Cubs
Many Mets fans still dream about Luis Castillo or Frankie Montas. But with the Mets rotation getting healthier by the day and quality fill-in starts from Trevor Williams, they’re less likely to need a big splash than they are a depth arm.
Journeyman Drew Smyly of the Chicago Cubs may perfectly fit that bill.
After spending the 2021 season with the Atlanta Braves, Smyly signed a 1-year deal worth $5.25 MM dollars with Chicago this offseason. So far in 2022, Smyly has pitched to a 3.80 ERA over his first nine starts. His ERA+111 suggests he has been about 11% better than the league average.
In addition, Smyly would give the Mets a left-handed option in their rotation, something they do not currently feature (Mets fans likely don’t want to see Thomas Szapucki pitching at the big league level again). While Smyly’s metrics suggest he may not be pitching as well as his traditional numbers show, he could be a featured as a spot starter, swingman out of the ‘pen, or next man up should their starting pitching injuries persist.
Michael Fulmer, RP Detroit Tigers
Funny how time works. It seems like yesterday, the Mets’ trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez was reversed, and the Mets pivoted to pull off a last-minute deal with the Detroit Tigers to land Yoenis Cespedes at the 2015 trade deadline. Cespedes went on a historic run leading the team to the NL Pennant that year, while Michael Fulmer won the 2016 Rookie of the Year Award in the American League.
Since then, Cespedes has been nearly gored by a boar, went AWOL from the Mets, and is out of baseball. Meanwhile, Fulmer has struggled to remain healthy or effective as a starting pitcher and keep his own footing in the big leagues.
However, since being moved to the bullpen last season, Fulmer has been excellent as a reliever for the Tigers.
In 2021, Fulmer appeared in 48 games in relief, pitching to a 2.53 ERA. In 57 innings, Fulmer struck out 66 batters and earned 14 saves.
This year, Fulmer has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen and has cemented a role for himself. In 21 appearances, Fulmer commands a 2.57 ERA over 27 innings. The Mets could come full circle, adding a familiar face and strengthening their bullpen as they enter the final two months of the season.