Monday, August 7, 2023

Manic Monday For Mets As They Make Moves On Marte & Baty, Then Crush Cubs

Kodai Senga firing one in against the Cubs' Cody Bellinger in the second inning on Monday night. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets returned to Citi Field on Monday night, and they rolled to an 11-2 won over the Chicago Cubs to open a three-game series, backed by a great outing from Kodai Senga and two home runs from Pete Alonso. 

This broke a six-game losing streak for the Mets, who improved to 51-61 on the season, and came against a red-hot Cubs team that was 18-8 since the last time they came to New York and took two of three from the Yankees from July 7-9. Chicago is now 58-55, 2 1/2 games behind Milwaukee (61-53) in the National League Central race.

Senga was superb once again, as he went six innings, and allowed just two runs on seven this and two walks with six strikeouts. He is now 8-6, with a 3.24 ERA (earned run average) on the season.

Alonso gave Senga an early cushion, as he blasted a three-run home run in the first inning of Chicago's Drew Smyly, and a two-run shot in the third that made it 5-1 Mets at the time.

The Mets first baseman now has 33 homers and 83 RBI, and he is hitting .225 with an .838 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). 

Before the game, the Mets made two significant moves, as they placed right fielder Starling Marte on the injured list, retroactive to yesterday, Sunday, August 6, with a right groin strain, and third baseman Brett Baty was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.

MARTE: This is the latest setback in a season full of them for Marte, who had just returned this on Friday after an injured list stint due to migraines he was suffering from on July 15 and 16 when the Dodgers were in town. 

It has been a tough season for Marte, and he has hit .248 with five home runs and 28 RBI in 86 games, far off the pace he set for himself last season, when he hit .292 with 16 HR and 63 RBI. The Mets should seriously consider sitting the 34-year-old Marte for the rest of the season.

Mets Manager Buck Showalter, in his pregame press conference on Monday, said of Marte’s latest in a string of injuries, “He’s going to see the doctor tomorrow in Philadelphia, the doctor that did some of the surgeries in the offseason, kind of get our arms around everything.”

On if this groin issue has gotten worse lately, Showalter said, “I think so, obviously, I’ve talked to Starling a lot. We talked a lot on the place coming back (from Baltimore on Sunday), and Joey’s (Cora) been great with him because some things get kind of lost in translation. I just want to make sure he knows, and keep his trust about what he’s feeling, and what he’s - I think we all know by the level we’d seen him play at last year, that he hasn’t been able to do that consistently. 

“I could go into all the factors and things that have gone on with him, but I don’t think he’s 100 percent, and we need to get our arms around getting him back to that again, whether how long it’s been and what caused it, and until we make sure that some of the pain and discomfort he’s feeling is not from the surgeries, we felt like that was behind us, but sometimes, you know, who knows? We’ll let the guy who did the surgeries look at everything and ask him why he’s having this strained area there. You can see that his pitch recognition of the breaking ball is down because he’s having to cheat so much on the fastball. He’s having trouble loading; we’ve all seen him be a lot better."

It has been a tough season for Marte, and he has hit .248 with five home runs and 28 RBI in 86 games, far off the pace he set for himself last season, when he hit .292 with 16 HR and 63 RBI. The Mets should seriously consider sitting the 34-year-old Marte for the rest of the season.

“I feel for him," said Showalter. "It’s got to be really frustrating to have that much skill and ability and not be able to get into it, so, I, going to try and go in a different direction, see if we can get it taken care of. Can that happen in eight or nine days? (Referring to length of IL stint backdated to Sunday) I don’t know, I’ll wait to see what the doctor has to say tomorrow.”

BATY: The 23-year-old Brett Baty, one of the Mets' highly-touted prospects, debuted during last year's pennant race before he suffered a wrist injury, and he entered this season with the expectations that he would anchor the hot corner. The Mets cemented that thinking when they traded the veteran, Eduardo Escobar, on June 23, which makes this move six weeks later, at a time when the Mets are giving their young talent a chance, rather surprising.

Baty is hitting .216 with seven home runs and 27 RBI in 86 games this season, and he has had a tough stretch of late. Baty was hitless on their six-game road trip, and had just three hits in 30 at-bats in his last ten games, beginning on July 27 against Washington.

Showalter said of the reasoning behind taking this step with Baty, “Just a little timeout, kind of a ‘take a breath,’ as much mental, emotional, let him kind of work on some things without the day-to-day. Not going to do it here, you’ve got to be real careful about something that comes out of your mouth, you don’t know if it’s going to come to pass. You don’t say ‘you’re going to be back in X number of days,’ ‘after X number of at-bats.’

“He controls it, but I think Brett, it’s in the best interest of his development. I’ve had a lot of young players that have gone through this without doing a bit of name-dropping, and I think it’s in his best interest to go down, take a breath and get back to what he was doing when he first got here. It’s a tough place to do that.”

Showalter said of his conversation with Baty about being optioned, “Actually, you know, these people start talking about ‘this is what I think he’s feeling,’ ‘he feels relieved,’ or ‘not relieved,’ ‘he’s mad,’ ‘not mad,’ or whatever; nobody really knows. You know, what he’s going to say in there to me or to (General Manager) Billy (Eppler), you know, but we think this is what’s best for the Mets, what’s best for Brett, which is what’s best for the Mets for the time being. 

“Just because something’s delayed does not mean it’s denied, and I’m not going to start reeling off all the names of really good players with long Major League careers I’ve had that went through this, sometimes two or three times, so you know, it’s hopefully just a temporary thing, but I told him he controls it, it’s up to him. He’s got a good attitude about it, in fact, you know, had a lot of good give-and-take back and forth.”

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