Posted on August 19, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Amidst a tailspin that is threatening their postseason hopes, the New York Mets will add some reinforcements on Friday when they activate outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera from the DL. Cespedes returns after missing the minimum of 15 days to heal a quad injury that he attempted to play through for several weeks. Cabrera, meanwhile, returns from a knee injury that had him on the shelf for close to three weeks.
Mets manager Terry Collins is undoubtedly excited to get two of his regulars back. “I think it’s going to be a huge boost,” Collins said Thursday. A huge boost is exactly what the Mets need after just eight wins in their last 24 games. That poor stretch has dropped the Mets a game below .500 and 4.5 games out of the second wild card spot. If the team continues to slide, they could find themselves out of contention for a playoff spot by the time the calendar flips to September.
In Collins’ mind, the emotional lift from having Cespedes and Cabrera could be as important as what they contribute on the field. “The energy in the clubhouse, when they look around and see some some of those big bats, that’s going to be a big pickup for us,” he said. Collins is particularly excited to get Cespedes in the same lineup as Jay Bruce, who has hit just .188 since being traded to the Mets on August 1. The skipper believes some of the pressure will be off Bruce with Cespedes next to him in the lineup. “I told him yesterday, when Cespedes gets back, all of a sudden the middle of that lineup gets reshaped,” said Collins. “Take a deep breath, exhale, and go up there and do your thing.”
Despite struggling with the quad issue for much July, Cespedes still hit .303 while slugging .530 during that month. Cespedes had an amazing final two months of the season last year, helping carry the Mets to a division title, and he may need to put together an equally impressive performance over the final six weeks of the season if the Mets hope to return to the postseason.
Unfortunately, even with Cespedes and Cabrera returning from the DL, the Mets still won’t be at full health. Second baseman Neil Walker, who’s hitting .397 with five home runs during the month of August, has missed the last three games with a stiff back, and the team isn’t sure when he will be able to return or if he can avoid a trip to the DL. The Mets will also play Friday’s game against the San Francisco Giants without scheduled starter Steven Matz, who is being skipped due to a sore shoulder. Matz carried a no-hitter into the 8th inning in his last start, causing him to perhaps throw more pitches than the team would have preferred.
The Mets aren’t quite back to full health, but with Cespedes and Cabrera expected to return from the DL on Friday, New York is getting there, and not a moment too soon. The Mets are falling fast and running out of time. Without some kind of spark that can get things turned around, it could soon be too late. The Mets are hoping that getting Cespedes and Cabrera back in the lineup can be that spark; if it’s not, there may be nothing left that can save their season.