Jeff McNeil was kicked out of the Mets lineup for the third game in a row on Friday.
The Mets second baseman has been dealing with a tight right hamstring since Monday when he sprinted to home plate in the fourth inning of the Mets’ 6-0 win over the Marlins at Citi Field. He had an MRI in New York on Monday, the results of which were not publicly disclosed by the Mets. At Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, McNeil said his hamstring tightness was improving and pulled himself out of Monday’s game as a precaution.
Manager Buck Showalter said McNeil could be available to take a pinch against the Marlins on Friday.
But there was at least some opportunity for Showalter to use McNeil as a pinch-hitter during the Mets’ series against the Astros in Houston. McNeil, however, never got off the bench.
Asked if McNeil is completely unavailable in Houston, Showalter said he could have hit, but he was unable to run at 100 percent. So even if McNeil rips an extra base-hit into the center-field gap, it means he’ll be forced to stop first. Then, with the bench already short, McNeil has to be removed for the pinch-runner.
Given the circumstances of McNeil’s injury, it is a difficult situation for the Mets to decide whether McNeil should move to the injury list. At a minimum, he would have been unable to return until June 30, meaning he would miss both Astros series (the one in Houston that took place earlier this week and the upcoming one starting Tuesday at Citi Field).
By not placing McNeil on IL, the Mets are indicating that they believe the second baseman will be ready to go and 100 percent healthy in time for his homestand. But it also means that he played with a small bench for most of his road trip to Houston and Miami. The Mets were defeated by the Astros in the two-match series, and the lineup missed McNeil’s bat in both losses.
Not now, MAX
The Mets had considered starting Max Schazer in Miami on Sunday, but Showalter made it clear on Friday that he would not pitch for them just yet.
The Mets skipper was unclear about exactly what Scherzer’s next move would be, but some options have included a normal working day or another minor-league rehab start. The latter is likely, especially because Scherzer is in Miami with the Mets this weekend. He could have started Sunday for the nearby Low-A St. Lucie Mets and still ended his journey with the team back to New York. But the ace also indicated he doesn’t need to start another rehab after a 3.1-innings outing to Double-A Binghamton earlier this week.
“I want to be in the big leagues, not be a rumble pony,” Scherzer told reporters in Binghamton on Tuesday.
It’s possible the Mets will be saving Scherzer for a start against the Astros at home next week, but that scenario will push the rest of the rotation at least one day behind their normal schedule. Either way, Scherzer is very close to returning to big-league rotation, and is expected to do so within or around a week. That should give him four starts before the All-Star break, perhaps enough time for the eight-time All-Star to make the case for his ninth All-Star.
Scherzer went to IL on May 19 with a left oblique strain with a 5-1 record, 2.54 ERA and 59 strikeouts.
Jake’s Next Step
Jacob deGrom (stress response in the right shoulder bone) will throw his second live batting practice at Port St. Lucie on Saturday. His first live BP was on Tuesday at the Mets facility, facing hitters for the first time since he injured his shoulder during spring training in late March.
Based on this timeline, it is unlikely that DeGrom will return to the Mets before the All-Star break that begins on July 18. DeGrom will need to start some rehab and activate the right before the Mets can comfortably. – Hander. The Mets ace last pitched in the Majors on July 7, 2021.