Their second baseman of the moment, Jeff McNeil, has hit .340 across his first 32 major league games, with only 11 strikeouts. The Mets must learn as much as they can about McNeil down the stretch, to see if he is a viable option for 2019.
Somewhat predictably, then, McNeil was hurt on Sunday, leaving the game after six innings with tightness in his right quadriceps. He said he was day to day. McNeil had a single on Sunday, one of three for the Mets, who had no other hits.
The Mets’ scoring prowess since the All-Star break (4.9 runs a game) is skewed by their 40-run outburst over two games in Baltimore and Philadelphia; the rotation remains their best reason for hope. The Mets have had 93 starts from Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, with a collective 3.09 earned run average.
On Sunday, Matz matched his season high with seven innings, allowing five hits, one walk and one run.
“It’s good to go out there in the seventh inning; to keep running back out there, it’s something that’s really beneficial,” said Matz, who threw 97 pitches, before the bullpen slogged through 78 in two innings. “Today wasn’t a great day, but they’ve been doing a great job. It happens.”
The Mets’ starters still command attention. Consider the first two matchups at Wrigley: Syndergaard versus Jon Lester on Monday, and deGrom vs. Cole Hamels on Tuesday. Lester was also pitching the last time Callaway went to Wrigley Field, as Cleveland’s pitching coach for Game 5 of the 2016 World Series. Facing elimination that night, Lester beat the Indians to spark the Cubs’ comeback.
Callaway said he had not thought of Wrigley in that context, as the spot where his old team came so close to winning it all. Even without a title, the Indians’ success made Callaway attractive to other teams, and the Mets hired him last fall to replace Terry Collins.