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The Mets' most pressing question

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

Shifting powers within the National League East have created a new dynamic as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, with more potential buyers than sellers dotting the landscape. The Braves, Nationals and Phillies all believe they have legitimate chances to make the postseason, while the Mets aren't quite counting themselves out yet, either.

Many general managers like to slice regular seasons into three segments, using the first to learn about their teams, the second to take action, and the third to let the chips fall where they may. But while each NL East team is well into Phase 2 of that plan, they all still have unanswered questions clouding their futures:

Shifting powers within the National League East have created a new dynamic as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, with more potential buyers than sellers dotting the landscape. The Braves, Nationals and Phillies all believe they have legitimate chances to make the postseason, while the Mets aren't quite counting themselves out yet, either.

Many general managers like to slice regular seasons into three segments, using the first to learn about their teams, the second to take action, and the third to let the chips fall where they may. But while each NL East team is well into Phase 2 of that plan, they all still have unanswered questions clouding their futures:

Video: Byrnes breaks down Braves, Freeman's MVP chances

BRAVES
The question: Can Atlanta keep this up?

This question is layered deeper than it might appear. Every year, a rebuilding team or two tends to rise to contention sooner than expected, as the Braves have done in shooting out to first place. If they play their cards right at the Deadline, Atlanta could add a reliever, a bench bat or even a starting pitcher if its budget allows. But the Braves won't likely address all of those areas, knowing they needs to maintain a strong farm system and a responsible budget to keep the window of contention open as long as possible.

How Atlanta performs over the next three to four weeks could have a major impact on what it does at the Deadline. A strong run could prompt more aggression from the Braves in trade talks. Less dynamic play might convince them to stay conservative, knowing that no matter what happens this year, they're a team with oodles of potential for 2019.

Video: MIA@BAL: Realmuto crushes a 2-run homer to center

MARLINS
The question: Which veterans will be on the move?

There's little doubt the Marlins will sell off pieces prior to the Trade Deadline. The only question is which ones?

Teams seeking catching help -- the Red Sox, Brewers and Angels spring to mind -- will surely ask about J.T. Realmuto, but there's doubt within the industry that Miami would deal him. When the Mets checked in earlier this year, they came away with the impression that the Marlins wanted to keep their standout catcher.

That could change as the deadline nears, but even if it doesn't, Miami has assets to spare. First baseman Justin Bour, second baseman Starlin Castro, starting pitcher Dan Straily and reliever Kyle Barraclough all could fetch interesting returns, considering they are under contractual control for multiple seasons. Like Realmuto, all of them have been involved in trade rumors in the past.

In any event, Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill is about to become a popular man.

Video: NYM@COL: Syndergaard discusses progress on his injury

METS
The question: When will the superstars return (and will it be too late)?

Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard have combined to miss more than two months with injuries that the Mets once considered relatively minor -- a strained right hip flexor for Cespedes, a strained right index finger for Syndergaard. The team still doesn't have much of a timetable for either, complicating its attempt to push back into playoff contention. With Cespedes and Syndergaard active and healthy, the Mets believe they can make a late run at an NL Wild Card berth. Without them, the team might be inclined to look toward 2019.

Last summer, general manager Sandy Alderson provided a blueprint of what a yard sale could look like before (and after) July 31, dealing away Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Jay Bruce, Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson for a cadre of high-upside relievers. This year's inventory of pending free agents is not quite so robust, with only Jeurys Familia and Asdrubal Cabrera potentially attractive to buyers. The Mets could pivot on their longstanding philosophy and deal away Jacob deGrom or Syndergaard, but trading either would indicate a full-scale rebuild -- something they do not appear willing to undertake.

Right now, the Mets see deGrom, Syndergaard and Cespedes as critical parts of their 2019 team. A return to health for the latter two players would do wonders for the team's outlook in '18 and beyond.

Video: Is Harper putting extra pressure on himself?

NATIONALS
The question: When will Bryce Harper be Bryce Harper again?

The Nationals have performed well enough without the usual output from Harper, whose batting average, on-base percentage and slugging mark are all down significantly from last season -- some of his major offensive statistics are down even from 2016, when rumors of a shoulder injury dogged him all summer. But Washington hasn't been able to upend Atlanta, which features the division's best offense (and statistically speaking, it's not particularly close).

It's not as if Harper, who leads the NL with 19 home runs, has been unproductive. It's just that he's far from the NL MVP Award candidate the Nats expected him to be. The good news for Washington? Harper's breakout appears to be a matter of when, not if. His average exit velocity is at its highest point since his 2015 NL MVP Award-winning season, while his batting average on balls in play is at a career low. Certainly, defensive shifts have played a role in that, but Harper is too elite of a hitter to stay this unproductive for long. How quickly he turns it around could well determine the NL East title.

Video: STL@PHI: Morgan induces grounder to preserve the win

PHILLIES
The question: Can Phils survive (or thrive) without a closer?

Philadelphia's Opening Day closer, Hector Neris, lost the job in May, and it didn't stop there, as he slid all the way to Triple-A this week. For now, the Phillies are going closer-by-committee, with Adam Morgan nailing down a rogue save on Wednesday. As new-school as they come, manager Gabe Kapler doesn't believe in set bullpen roles, preferring to use his best relievers in the highest-leverage spots. But decades of history suggests that strategy doesn't often work over a 162-game season, and the Phils' ninth-inning issues don't appear to be disappearing.

A team with issues on the left side of its infield won't necessarily be able to splurge on a closer before the Deadline, even with Familia and Zach Britton among those potentially available. Instead, there's a good chance it will be up to Seranthony Dominguez, Edubray Ramos and the rest of the Phillies' in-house mix to make Kapler's strategies work.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, New York Mets

Relentless Mets fall behind Lugo's short outing

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

DENVER -- Even taking into account Seth Lugo's dud performance Wednesday night at Coors Field, where he allowed six runs -- three earned -- in a 10-8 loss to the Rockies, the Mets' starting staff has performed remarkably well in Noah Syndergaard's absence. Since May 29, the day Syndergaard went on the disabled list with a strained right index finger, the Mets rank seventh in the Majors with a 3.28 rotation ERA. Over the past calendar month, they're second with a 3.22 mark.

That statistic bloated only slightly when Lugo allowed six runs Wednesday, beginning with Nolan Arenado's solo homer in the first. An inning later, a Todd Frazier fielding error led to three unearned runs. When Lugo allowed two more in the third inning, Mets manager Mickey Callaway had seen enough, removing him for a pinch-hitter in the top of the fourth.

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DENVER -- Even taking into account Seth Lugo's dud performance Wednesday night at Coors Field, where he allowed six runs -- three earned -- in a 10-8 loss to the Rockies, the Mets' starting staff has performed remarkably well in Noah Syndergaard's absence. Since May 29, the day Syndergaard went on the disabled list with a strained right index finger, the Mets rank seventh in the Majors with a 3.28 rotation ERA. Over the past calendar month, they're second with a 3.22 mark.

That statistic bloated only slightly when Lugo allowed six runs Wednesday, beginning with Nolan Arenado's solo homer in the first. An inning later, a Todd Frazier fielding error led to three unearned runs. When Lugo allowed two more in the third inning, Mets manager Mickey Callaway had seen enough, removing him for a pinch-hitter in the top of the fourth.

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"I've got some stuff I need to work on," Lugo said. "I'm just going to focus on that."

Video: COL@NYM: Parra singles to right and drives in Story

Despite the early deficit, the Mets never shriveled, scoring eight of their own against Rockies starter Chad Bettis. Half of those came in the fifth inning on Wilmer Flores' sacrifice fly, Brandon Nimmo's bases-loaded walk and Asdrubal Cabrera's two-run single, which briefly gave the Mets the lead. But Ryan McMahon's pinch-hit, three-run homer off Robert Gsellman in the fifth put the Mets behind for good.

Video: NYM@COL: Cabrera pulls Mets ahead with a 2-run single

And that, not starting pitching, is what's been the problem. Since Lugo began starting games on May 31, New York's bullpen ERA ranks 27th in baseball. Relying heavily on Lugo as a reliever early this season, the Mets have struggled to replace him, particularly with AJ Ramos done for the year and Anthony Swarzak only recently returned from the disabled list.

Jeurys Familia also returned from the DL last weekend. But without Lugo in the mix, the Mets have struggled to find a back-end formula that works.

"I'm encouraged that we probably have more guys available now than we ever have," Callaway said, putting a positive spin on the situation. "We have some dependable guys out there. … We have more personnel than we have all year at one particular time. The last component is when we get Syndergaard back."

Even with splint on finger, Thor 'throwing rockets'

Video: NYM@COL: Syndergaard discusses progress on his injury

As far back as Spring Training, Mets officials debated where Lugo might be most effective, in the rotation or the bullpen. Right now, with Syndergaard sidelined, they don't have much of a choice. But the effects of that move on the bullpen are plain to see.

"The one thing that's been affected is the bullpen," Callaway said. "We had to take one of our better relievers and stick him in the rotation. But our rotation has been great."

Video: NYM@COL: Callaway discusses Lugo's start in 10-8 loss

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Trailing by just a run in the sixth inning, the Mets loaded the bases on a Dominic Smith double and a pair of one-out walks. The next batter, Kevin Plawecki, ran the count full before grounding a ball to third base, where Arenado turned it into an inning-ending double play.

When asked about the 12 runners the Mets left on base, Callaway chose to laud his offense.

"I thought we scratched and clawed, and our offense did a great job of keeping us in the game the whole time," he said. "I'm encouraged that we're swinging the bats the way we should." 

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Finishing a home run shy of the cycle, Smith snapped an 0-for-12 stretch at the plate, matching his career high with three hits. The triple was Smith's first as a big leaguer; he had seven in the Minors, including one earlier this season for Triple-A Las Vegas.

"I haven't hit many in my career, so when I'm out there running, sometimes I don't know how to really judge it or when to really go," Smith said. "I was like, 'You know what, I'll just go for it.' Luckily, I made it in there safely." 

Video: NYM@COL: Smith legs out his 1st triple in the majors

HE SAID IT
"It's just another ballpark. There's really no excuses. I still have to make pitches and get outs. I didn't do that today." -- Gsellman, on the difficulty of pitching in Coors Field

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Mets feared they lost Cabrera to injury in the seventh, when he grimaced in pain after making an acrobatic tag of Tom Murphy on an inning-ending double play. After pinch-hitter Chris Iannetta struck out swinging, Mets catcher Devin Mesoraco fired to second base to catch Murphy stealing. But Mesoraco's throw was high, forcing Cabrera to catch it and apply the tag as he descended back to earth, banging his left elbow on the ground in the process.

Video: NYM@COL: Mesoraco catches Murphy for DP after review

As Cabrera met with Callaway and members of the training staff, umpires confirmed the call via replay. Cabrera remained in the game, suffering nothing more than a bruise.

"He just landed hard on his left elbow," Callaway said. "It was really just a bang, the initial hit that he took going to the ground."

UP NEXT
Sporting a 2.47 ERA since the beginning of May, Steven Matz will look to keep rolling when he starts the Mets' series finale Thursday in Denver. Matz will oppose Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland, whose presence should give the Mets reason to stack their lineup with right-handed batters such as Jose Bautista. First pitch is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. ET.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Seth Lugo, Dominic Smith

Even with splint on finger, Thor 'throwing rockets'

Mets hope for mid-July return for right-hander
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

DENVER -- Even now, almost four full weeks since his last appearance in a Major League game, Noah Syndergaard refers to the strained ligament in his right index finger as "minor." When told Wednesday that nearly a month has passed since the last time he pitched, Syndergaard paused and asked, "Has it been that long?"

It has, and will be a while yet before he returns. Although Syndergaard began a throwing progression off flat ground this week, he did so with a modified splint on his index finger. Syndergaard said that while he is not ready to begin pitching off a mound, doctors may clear him to throw without the splint when they examine him later this week in New York.

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DENVER -- Even now, almost four full weeks since his last appearance in a Major League game, Noah Syndergaard refers to the strained ligament in his right index finger as "minor." When told Wednesday that nearly a month has passed since the last time he pitched, Syndergaard paused and asked, "Has it been that long?"

It has, and will be a while yet before he returns. Although Syndergaard began a throwing progression off flat ground this week, he did so with a modified splint on his index finger. Syndergaard said that while he is not ready to begin pitching off a mound, doctors may clear him to throw without the splint when they examine him later this week in New York.

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"The symptoms have completely subsided," Syndergaard said. "My arm feels great. I feel like I'm throwing rockets."

If Syndergaard can advance to mound work before the end of this month, it's reasonable to think he could return at some point in mid-July. Given how much time he's missed, Syndergaard will likely require multiple bullpen sessions -- including at least one against live hitters -- as well as a Minor League rehab start before coming off the DL.

"We're looking forward to getting him back," manager Mickey Callaway said. "We're going to be a better team when he's active."

Syndergaard has not appeared in a game since May 25 in Milwaukee. Originally scheduled to return June 10 against the Yankees, he felt a recurrence of pain in his finger, prompting the Mets to scratch him from that start. In 11 outings, Syndergaard is 4-1 with a 3.06 ERA, 76 strikeouts and 13 walks in 64 2/3 innings. He says he does not know how he injured the digit.

"It really sucks, especially because this is such a minor injury," Syndergaard said. "Think about it, it's a finger injury. But I'm working on fine-tuning other parts of my game, trying to visualize pitches, and hopefully when I get back out there, I'm not rusty."

During his absence, Syndergaard's name has popped up frequently in trade rumors that, at least for now, remain more theoretical than realistic. Mets officials have indicated they will listen to offers on all of their players, including Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, but are unlikely to part with either of their two best pitchers.

"To be quite honest," Syndergaard said, "I haven't really been paying that much attention to that mumbo jumbo."

Roster move
After their relievers pitched 5 2/3 innings in Tuesday's loss to the Rockies, the Mets made a move to shore up their bullpen depth, recalling right-hander Chris Flexen from Triple-A Las Vegas. Flexen spent time with the Mets earlier this year, appearing in just one game. He held a 5.43 ERA in 11 starts and one relief appearance at Las Vegas.

In a corresponding move, the Mets optioned reliever Hansel Robles, who posted a 5.03 ERA in 16 appearances, to Triple-A instead of rookie Tim Peterson. Callaway said Peterson impressed him in allowing one run over his first 6 1/3 career innings, earning the right to stick in the big leagues.

"A lot of it's what Peterson has shown," Callaway said. "He's got a lot of deception, some swing-and-miss. He deserves to be up here right now, and we need a guy like him to help us out."

Medical update
An MRI taken Wednesday in New York revealed a strain in outfielder's Jay Bruce's right hip, though Callaway was unsure of the exact nature of the injury. Bruce went on the disabled list Tuesday, and is eligible to return May 29 in Miami.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard

Mets unable to overcome Vargas' struggles

Lefty allows seven runs in 2 1/3 innings as New York's 3-game win streak ends
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

DENVER -- Acquiring Jason Vargas this offseason, the Mets believed, would give their rotation depth. So far, it has provided only headaches.

Vargas' season-long struggles continued Tuesday at Coors Field, where he allowed seven runs and recorded seven outs in a 10-8 loss to the Rockies. On a drizzly night that began with an 80-minute rain delay, Vargas became the first Mets pitcher since Bartolo Colon in 2014 to serve up three consecutive homers, allowing back-to-back-to-back shots in the third inning to Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Ian Desmond.

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DENVER -- Acquiring Jason Vargas this offseason, the Mets believed, would give their rotation depth. So far, it has provided only headaches.

Vargas' season-long struggles continued Tuesday at Coors Field, where he allowed seven runs and recorded seven outs in a 10-8 loss to the Rockies. On a drizzly night that began with an 80-minute rain delay, Vargas became the first Mets pitcher since Bartolo Colon in 2014 to serve up three consecutive homers, allowing back-to-back-to-back shots in the third inning to Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Ian Desmond.

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All told, the Rockies sent a dozen batters to the plate in the third, scoring six times off Vargas and Hansel Robles. While the Mets' own offensive output would have seemed luxurious merely one week ago, it was nothing compared to the Rockies' onslaught.

"When you come into Coors Field, you tell your pitchers, 'Don't worry about what happens here,' and you move on," manager Mickey Callaway said. "You come in here, you battle all you can and you forget about it. You can't let what happens here put you in a tailspin."

Snapping a three-game winning streak was the least of New York's worries. Coming off three of his best outings of the season, Vargas submitted arguably his worst, allowing five batted balls of at least 97 mph. By comparison, Vargas generated just five swinging strikes.

Video: NYM@COL: Plawecki plates Flores on an RBI single

His nightmare of a season began in Spring Training, when the left-hander fractured a bone in his glove hand. Slow to recover from that injury, Vargas did not debut until April 28, allowing nine runs to the Padres -- one of baseball's worst offenses -- that day.

At the time, the Mets chalked up Vargas' struggles to his injury, which forced him to pitch from behind an L screen during live bullpen sessions and simulated games. But even as Vargas logged more innings, his issues continued. Six runs to the Braves on May 3. Five to the Brewers on May 26. Even recently, in posting a 3.00 ERA over a three-start stretch, Vargas lasted just five innings in each of those games.

"The start of the season was obviously a disaster," Vargas said. "Tonight definitely gets magnified because of the things that happened earlier in the season. It's frustrating, no doubt about it. It's not something that I'm accustomed to, and not something that I want to get accustomed to."

Video: NYM@COL: Frazier plates Nimmo on a sac fly in the 1st

At least for now, Vargas' rotation spot appears secure, with Noah Syndergaard on the disabled list. But once Syndergaard returns -- he began throwing off flat ground this week, and could return to a mound in the coming days -- it will be difficult for the Mets to justify starting Vargas over Seth Lugo, who is enjoying a standout season jumping between the bullpen and rotation.

Video: NYM@COL: Callaway on Vargas' rough start, 10-8 loss

"It's frustrating," Vargas said. "You get rolling in a good direction, and then you have something like this happen."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Seemingly no deficit is safe at Coors Field. The Mets put that theory into play in the seventh inning, when Jose Bautista hit a pinch-hit RBI single and the Mets subsequently loaded the bases with one out. But Chris Rusin struck out Michael Conforto and, after Bautista scored on a passed ball, Adam Ottavino induced a soft grounder from Todd Frazier to end the threat.

Video: NYM@COL: Bautista grounds a pinch-hit RBI single

The Mets added two more in the ninth, but could not bring the potential tying run to the plate.

"The guys battled the whole game," Callaway said. "You've got to give credit to our offense. They kept on grinding away, and doing everything they could to get us back into that game."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Not since Colon had a Mets pitcher allowed three consecutive homers, and none of these were in doubt. Arenado began the Rockies' third-inning surge with a two-run shot that Statcast™ projected at 439 feet. Story followed with Colorado's longest homer of the day, a 441-foot fly to left. Desmond completed the trick with a relatively modest 386-foot shot.

Video: Must C Consecutive: Rockies go back-to-back-to-back

"I was just leaving the fastball in that third inning right in places where they could really handle it," Vargas said. "There's not a whole lot other than they were all bad pitches, and they just got hammered."

HE SAID IT
"He looks fearless out there. He goes after the hitters. And that usually leads to success." -- Callaway on rookie reliever Tim Peterson, who struck out three over two shutout innings to lower his ERA to 1.42

UP NEXT
As Syndergaard begins to ramp up to a return from a finger injury, the man who replaced him in the Mets' rotation, Lugo, will make his third start in an 8:40 p.m. ET game at Coors Field. Lugo snapped a 13-inning scoreless streak last time out, allowing five runs in five innings in Arizona. He'll face Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets

Ramos to have season-ending surgery

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

DENVER -- As they were beginning the process of selling off veteran pieces last summer, the Mets briefly became Trade Deadline buyers, acquiring reliever AJ Ramos from the Marlins. Their thinking, at the time, was that Ramos could play a pivotal role for their 2018 bullpen.

The reality turned out to be something quite different. The Mets announced Tuesday that Ramos will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, ending his season and perhaps his Mets career.

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DENVER -- As they were beginning the process of selling off veteran pieces last summer, the Mets briefly became Trade Deadline buyers, acquiring reliever AJ Ramos from the Marlins. Their thinking, at the time, was that Ramos could play a pivotal role for their 2018 bullpen.

The reality turned out to be something quite different. The Mets announced Tuesday that Ramos will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, ending his season and perhaps his Mets career.

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In 28 appearances this year, Ramos posted a 6.41 ERA, insisting he was healthy until the Mets finally placed him on the disabled list May 27. Ramos briefly debated the benefits of surgery versus more conservative rehabilitation, but ultimately decided to schedule the operation for Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

"It's going to be a long rehab for him," said Mets manager Mickey Callaway, who estimated the process taking up to a year. "It's not a fun rehab, so that's tough."

Ramos can become a free agent after the season, meaning his Mets career likely just ended with a 5.59 ERA over parts of two seasons. That was hardly what the Mets envisioned when they acquired him from the Marlins for prospects Merandy Gonzalez and Ricardo Cespedes.

Instead, the Mets built their 2018 bullpen around Ramos, incumbent closer Jeurys Familia, lefty specialist Jerry Blevins and free-agent acquisition Anthony Swarzak. Familia has struggled at times in the closer's role, blowing four of his 18 save opportunities, Blevins has allowed a .905 OPS to lefties and Swarzak spent more than two months on the disabled list. The Mets entered Tuesday's play ranked 27th in MLB with a 4.52 bullpen ERA.

"We went into the season thinking we had four or five guys that we could mix and match with, and do some different things in the 'pen," Callaway said. "We're just now getting three of them in there at the same time the last few days. We're going to miss that fourth guy. We were counting on Ramos."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, AJ Ramos

Bruce goes on DL with right hip injury

Mets call up right-hander Peterson; Smith sees time in outfield
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

DENVER -- An issue throughout recent weeks, the Mets' outfield depth diminished further on Tuesday, when the team placed Jay Bruce on the disabled list due to continued right hip soreness. Bruce has been battling hip, back and foot issues in recent weeks, forcing him to miss four of the team's previous five games.

Attempting to play through his various aches and pains, Bruce was batting .212 with a .613 OPS prior to his DL assignment. He had not homered since May 7, a stretch of 113 plate appearances, and his defense had notably suffered.

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DENVER -- An issue throughout recent weeks, the Mets' outfield depth diminished further on Tuesday, when the team placed Jay Bruce on the disabled list due to continued right hip soreness. Bruce has been battling hip, back and foot issues in recent weeks, forcing him to miss four of the team's previous five games.

Attempting to play through his various aches and pains, Bruce was batting .212 with a .613 OPS prior to his DL assignment. He had not homered since May 7, a stretch of 113 plate appearances, and his defense had notably suffered.

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"The more and more we talked about it, the more and more we dug, he was really hurting," manager Mickey Callaway said. "So we made the decision to go ahead and put him on the DL, and get him right, so he can be the impactful player he can be."

Although Bruce sat out three games in Arizona, he started Sunday, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Had the Mets placed Bruce on the DL before the first of the games he missed, he would have been able to return Sunday against the Dodgers at Citi Field. As it is, the Mets can backdate his DL stint only one day, making May 29 in Miami his earliest possible return date.

"We did what we thought might help him the most at that point in time," Callaway said. "And we're doing what we think will help him the most now. The hard thing is to predict how long these things are going to linger. I think we all felt that a few days off would help, and it didn't."

To replace Bruce on the roster, the Mets recalled reliever Tim Peterson from Triple-A Las Vegas, wanting to carry an extra reliever for their next three games at hitter-friendly Coors Field. They will re-evaluate their roster mix prior to this weekend's series against the Dodgers.

No matter what they do, however, the Mets don't have any obvious starting outfield candidates to call up from Triple-A Las Vegas. Bruce's absence leaves them with just three healthy outfielders on their 40-man roster: Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto and Jose Bautista. Infielders Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes also have brief histories at the position, and the Mets have recently begin exposing first baseman Dominic Smith to the outfield, as well.

Smith started there Tuesday against the Rockies, with Callaway indicating that he and Bautista will be the Mets' primary options in left field. Although the Mets did not play Smith in the outfield until late last month, they believe his offensive potential is worth his defensive limitations at a new position -- even at Coors Field, which features Major League Baseball's most expansive outfield.

Video: Dominic Smith discusses starting in left field

"I'm excited to get out there and run around, and just enjoy myself and be a little kid again," said Smith, who has lost more than 30 pounds since the end of last season. "If you asked me last year when I was at Triple-A, at the size I was, if you would have told me next June you'll be playing outfield in the big leagues, I wouldn't have believed you at all."

When the Mets first told Smith he would receive outfield reps at Triple-A Las Vegas, he had a glove overnighted to the clubhouse there. But because it wasn't broken in, he asked pitcher Kyle Regnault to play catch with it in the afternoons, while Smith used one of teammate Matt den Dekker's gloves during games.

Not until last Friday, when Smith played three innings in left for the first time in his big league career, did he try out his new glove -- a Wilson A2K with a two-toned leather design -- in a game.

"Hopefully," Smith said, "it catches as good as it looks."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Jay Bruce

deGrom stellar again as dominant run continues

Mets explode for 12 runs to give ace right-hander more than enough support
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

DENVER -- Circumstances had grown unfathomable enough for Jacob deGrom that after the National League Cy Young Award candidate's last start, teammate Todd Frazier approached him to apologize for the Mets' offensive woes. Over a 10-start stretch, deGrom had posted a 0.87 ERA. The Mets were 2-8 in those games.

So it was a completely foreign feeling when, in the seventh inning of a 12-2 blowout over the Rockies on Monday, deGrom joked that he almost didn't want to beat out a fielder's choice because he didn't feel like running the bases. Already with six runs on the board at that time, the Mets had given deGrom as much support as in his previous five starts combined. They went on to add six more to seal up deGrom's first win in exactly one month.

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DENVER -- Circumstances had grown unfathomable enough for Jacob deGrom that after the National League Cy Young Award candidate's last start, teammate Todd Frazier approached him to apologize for the Mets' offensive woes. Over a 10-start stretch, deGrom had posted a 0.87 ERA. The Mets were 2-8 in those games.

So it was a completely foreign feeling when, in the seventh inning of a 12-2 blowout over the Rockies on Monday, deGrom joked that he almost didn't want to beat out a fielder's choice because he didn't feel like running the bases. Already with six runs on the board at that time, the Mets had given deGrom as much support as in his previous five starts combined. They went on to add six more to seal up deGrom's first win in exactly one month.

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"Any time we win is a weight lifted off," deGrom said. "We had a bad stretch there. We've been able to win three in a row, and want to keep this thing going."

No Met has done his part more consistently than deGrom, who was his usual dominant self in limiting the Rockies to two runs -- one earned -- in eight innings. Although he matched his season high in allowing three extra-base hits, only one of those baserunners came around to score. deGrom allowed just two other singles and a walk, striking out seven.

That shaved his Major League-best ERA down to 1.51 -- a tenth of a run better than Justin Verlander and more than half a run below Max Scherzer. His Cy Young credentials are growing stronger by the start; over his last 11 outings, deGrom owns a 0.90 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 18 walks in 70 1/3 innings.

"Arguably, statistically he's the best pitcher in the National League," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "This guy's good. This guy has proven over the last two years that he's in the conversation of one of the best pitchers in baseball."

Because of that, deGrom figures to be a coveted commodity at the Trade Deadline if the Mets fall further out of contention. A source said Monday that the team plans to listen to offers on all of its veteran players, though the Mets have been reticent in years past to discuss dealing deGrom, who remains under team control for two more seasons.

While the club's decision-makers consider deGrom part of their 2019 core, they could look to sell high, understanding as well as any team the fragility of pitching. But they also know that will become moot if the Mets climb back into contention -- which deGrom, as much as anyone, has the power to help them do.

Dominant stretches like this have happened before for deGrom, but never have they lasted so long. Manager Mickey Callaway compared deGrom's current success to what Indians ace Corey Kluber achieved last year, posting a 1.62 ERA over his final 23 starts to win the American League Cy Young.

Said Callaway: "This is pretty special. You don't see this often."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

Nimmo homers twice as Mets topple Rockies

deGrom hurls another gem to help New York win third straight
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

DENVER -- About once a year as a child, Brandon Nimmo and his family would make the roughly two-hour drive from their home in Cheyenne, Wyo., to take in a Rockies game at Coors Field. Nimmo idolized Todd Helton, obsessing over the way he drove balls to the opposite field. Once, a Rockies bullpen catcher tossed Nimmo a stray baseball, which he keeps in his childhood home to this day.

Plenty of other Wyomingites made that same trek down I-25 on Monday, streaming in from points north to watch one of their own. Hopefully, they were punctual. Nimmo became the first player in Mets history to lead off a game with an inside-the-park home run, tacking on a second homer later in a 12-2 win over the Rockies.

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DENVER -- About once a year as a child, Brandon Nimmo and his family would make the roughly two-hour drive from their home in Cheyenne, Wyo., to take in a Rockies game at Coors Field. Nimmo idolized Todd Helton, obsessing over the way he drove balls to the opposite field. Once, a Rockies bullpen catcher tossed Nimmo a stray baseball, which he keeps in his childhood home to this day.

Plenty of other Wyomingites made that same trek down I-25 on Monday, streaming in from points north to watch one of their own. Hopefully, they were punctual. Nimmo became the first player in Mets history to lead off a game with an inside-the-park home run, tacking on a second homer later in a 12-2 win over the Rockies.

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"I think everybody knew he was capable of playing at an elite level," manager Mickey Callaway said. "But this is pretty elite."

Pardon Nimmo's supporters if they were still settling into their seats when Tyler Anderson grooved an 0-2 cutter over the heart of the plate, where New York's breakout outfielder bashed it 396 feet to the base of the right-center-field wall. As the ball popped up and dribbled back onto the outfield grass, Nimmo raced around the bases in 14.70 seconds, the fifth-fastest time Statcast™ has recorded since its inception three years ago.

Video: NYM@COL: Nimmo homers inside and outside of the park

Nimmo, who also hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the Mets' comeback win over the D-backs on Sunday, could have jogged around the bases when he hit yet another homer to lead off the seventh against reliever Harrison Musgrave. (As is his style, Nimmo chose to half-jog, half-sprint.) He finished 4-for-6 with his third consecutive multi-hit game, a career-high four RBIs and the longest home run -- the second shot traveled a projected 449 feet -- of his career.

"It's sometimes tough to show up to the field the next day because you have to put that day behind you," Nimmo said of his Arizona heroics. "It doesn't get a whole lot better than yesterday, being able to help the team win, hit essentially the game-winning home run. And then today, being able to do that in front of the family, that sure gave it a run for its money."

Video: NYM@COL: deGrom strikes out 7 over 8 strong innings

Wilmer Flores and Devin Mesoraco also homered in the Mets' third straight victory, giving starter Jacob deGrom an almost dreamlike level of support. Entering the night, the Mets had won two of deGrom's previous 10 starts despite his 0.87 ERA over that stretch. While deGrom was not perfect in this one -- he allowed three extra-base hits, including Gerardo Parra's RBI double in the second inning -- he was plenty good enough, limiting the damage to one earned run and one unearned run in eight innings.

The Mets were glad to gift him the offense, considering how often this season they've mustered little to none. They could thank Coors Field for some of it, but mostly, they could thank Nimmo, who has already set career highs in just about every major offensive category. The most eye-popping of those are his 12 home runs, which Nimmo sees as a function of his mechanical work over the past three years. Most notably, Nimmo has shifted closer to home plate. He has shortened his stride. He has attempted, like many, to elevate the ball more often.

Video: NYM@COL: Mesoraco hammers a 2-run homer to left

The result is one of five players in baseball with at least 12 home runs and an OPS above 1.000: Mike Trout, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Nimmo.

"I was always, in my approach, looking for a good pitch to hit to try to drive," Nimmo said. "Now, I'm just doing it a little more often. That's pretty encouraging. That's really nice. That's actually a pretty dangerous player."

Video: NYM@COL: Ron Nimmo on Brandon's path to the Mets

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mets rally late: In case deGrom's victory was in doubt, the Mets added six runs in the ninth inning to seal the game. Mesoraco and Jose Bautista both walked with the bases loaded and Amed Rosario, who finished 3-for-5, knocked home two runs with a double. Nimmo followed with his fourth and final hit, a two-run single back up the middle.

Video: NYM@COL: Rosario belts a 2-run double in the 9th

"That was huge," Callaway said. "[deGrom] needed that. It was kind of close when he was pitching most of the game, but they ended up spreading it out for him. That was good to see."

SOUND SMART
Inside-the-park home runs are rare. Inside-the-park home runs to lead off games are rarer still. Nimmo became the first Mets player to accomplish the feat, though two others -- Charlie Neal at the Polo Grounds in 1963, and Angel Pagan at Citi Field in 2009 -- did so to lead off the bottom of the first.

Video: Must C Combo: Nimmo slugs 2 homers in front of family

The last Major Leaguer to lead off the game with an inside-the-parker was Chris Taylor of the Dodgers last September. The last Met to hit one in any context was Ruben Tejada in 2015.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Mets' finest defensive play came courtesy of Flores, who dove to snare a Parra line drive in the fourth. Although Flores did not appear to tag Trevor Story as the Rockies shortstop attempted to retreat to first base, umpire Bill Welke called Story out of the baseline. The play potentially saved deGrom a run, and kept his pitch count low.

Video: Flores' quick catch turns DP

HE SAID IT
"It was just a blast. I had a great time. It was way better than Dippin' Dots." -- Nimmo, who used to enjoy coming to Coors Field as a child because he was allowed to have ice cream

UP NEXT
For as long as Noah Syndergaard remains on the disabled list, Jason Vargas' place in the Mets' rotation is secure. In the meantime, Vargas will look to keep strengthening his resume when he starts Tuesday at Coors Field. Shaky early this season, Vargas owns a 3.00 ERA over his last three starts, though he hasn't gone deeper than five innings in any of them. He'll oppose Rockies right-hander German Marquez in the 8:40 p.m. ET game.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Brandon Nimmo

Mets remaining patient on possible trades

Playoff hopes will factor into team's decision-making
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

DENVER -- Entering this week's series at Coors Field seven games out of a National League Wild Card spot, and 10 1/2 out of their division, the Mets are beginning to come to grips with the possibility that they will not be serious playoff contenders this summer.

But they're not there quite yet. While a team official said the Mets are open to listening on offers for all their players, including starters Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, he cautioned that they won't likely complete any deals soon. The official said the Mets first want to play out the next few weeks to see if they climb back into contention.

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DENVER -- Entering this week's series at Coors Field seven games out of a National League Wild Card spot, and 10 1/2 out of their division, the Mets are beginning to come to grips with the possibility that they will not be serious playoff contenders this summer.

But they're not there quite yet. While a team official said the Mets are open to listening on offers for all their players, including starters Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, he cautioned that they won't likely complete any deals soon. The official said the Mets first want to play out the next few weeks to see if they climb back into contention.

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Only if they don't will the Mets start to entertain more serious offers for their veteran players. Most of the buzz surrounds deGrom and Syndergaard, a pair of stud pitchers under team control for multiple seasons beyond this one. But much as they demonstrated a reticence to talk trade for those two last summer, the Mets are unlikely to deal them this year -- barring an offer that bowls them over.

More likely, the Mets will sell off pending free agents, as they did last year in trading Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Jay Bruce, Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson. This year's pool of obvious trade candidates is smaller, centering on closer Jeurys Familia and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera.

Familia, who returned from the disabled list last week, entered Monday's play with a 2.70 ERA in 29 appearances, converting 14 of his 18 save chances. Cabrera was the Mets' best hitter for most of April and May, but has since faded into a 7-for-61 (.115) funk.

Bruce scratched
Bruce was a late scratch from the Mets' lineup Monday against the Rockies due to continued hip soreness, which could land him on the disabled list.

Bruce, who sat out three of the Mets' last four games due to lower back and hip soreness, said he felt the issue resurface Monday. The Mets plan to re-evaluate him Tuesday to make a DL determination.

"For me, it's just hard to be OK with," Bruce said of potentially going on the DL. "Obviously, sometimes it's out of your hands. … I don't want it to be a situation where I miss a ton of time when we could have just nipped it in the bud. But we'll just have to see."

Mets manager Mickey Callaway indicated more strongly that Bruce could land on the DL, saying, "We need to get Jay Bruce right so he can be the Jay Bruce that his team wants him to be, and that he wants to be."

Through 62 games, Bruce has not been that player, hitting .212 with three home runs and a .613 OPS. Also dealing with plantar fasciitis in his feet, Bruce has not homered since May 7, a span of 113 plate appearances, and has just three RBIs over that stretch.

"He's such a team guy that it's sometimes hard to understand that he might need a rest," Callaway said. "It's tough to know what players are really feeling -- especially a player that wants to go out there and play every single day, so they don't complain about what's going on. But I think this has definitely affected him."

Part of the issue is that the Mets have few outfield options behind Bruce. Yoenis Cespedes remains sidelined indefinitely due to injury and Juan Lagares is out for the year. The Mets' only reserve on the 40-man roster is Jose Bautista, who started in right field Monday in Bruce's place.

Injury updates
Syndergaard (strained right index finger) restarted a throwing program Monday, playing catch on flat ground at distances up to 60 feet. Syndergaard will extend to 75 feet on Tuesday, and could progress quickly to mound work from there.

"I would venture to say that it's not going to be this long, drawn-out process," Callaway said, indicating Syndergaard will need at least one Minor League rehab start.

Cespedes (strained right hip flexor) "checked out really well" in physical therapy Monday, according to Callaway, and might advance to more weight-bearing exercises on Tuesday. He has yet to begin baseball activities.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets

Asdrubal, Nimmo eyeing NL All-Star Game

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

DENVER -- Brandon Nimmo's write-in candidacy for the All-Star Game hasn't gained enough traction to place him in the Top 15 National League outfielders in voting, but his play on the field could get him to the game regardless.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

DENVER -- Brandon Nimmo's write-in candidacy for the All-Star Game hasn't gained enough traction to place him in the Top 15 National League outfielders in voting, but his play on the field could get him to the game regardless.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

Emerging from a brief slump to reestablish himself as a leader of New York's offense, Nimmo hit a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning of the Mets' win Sunday over the D-backs. While Nimmo is unlikely to garner enough support to crack a starting outfield mix that currently features Nick Markakis, Bryce Harper and Matt Kemp at the top of the ballot, he could make the team as a reserve with an extended stretch of strong play in June.

In the second update of All-Star voting released Monday by Major League Baseball, second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera was the only Met who ranked among the top five at his position. With 137,567 votes, Cabrera trailed Ozzie Albies by more than 700,000.

Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot until Thursday, July 5, at 11:59 p.m. ET. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB At Bat and MLB Ballpark mobile apps. Each fan can vote up to five times in any 24-hour period, for a maximum of 35 ballots cast.

Following the announcement of this year's All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Final Vote for the final player on each league's roster. Then on Tuesday, July 17, while watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans may visit MLB.com to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Aside from Cabrera and Nimmo, who have outside shots to make the roster, Jacob deGrom is a near-lock to head to Washington, while Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman are also making cases for themselves. Pitchers are not involved in the fan vote.

Nimmo's candidacy is hurt by the fact that he was not one of the Mets' three starting outfielders early this season, relegating him to write-in status.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Asdrubal Cabrera, Brandon Nimmo

Mets stun D-backs with 2 HRs, 4 runs in 9th

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

PHOENIX -- It rained this weekend in Arizona, the type of biblical downpour that happens infrequently enough for some of the desert's more cynical dwellers to conclude, not entirely tongue-in-cheek, that a black cloud might be following the Mets. Losing 19 of 24 games coming into Sunday's play, the Mets could pin the blame on their bullpen, their offense, their defense -- anything, really, other than their starting pitching.

There was also the less quantifiable fact that the Mets never seemed to catch a break.

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PHOENIX -- It rained this weekend in Arizona, the type of biblical downpour that happens infrequently enough for some of the desert's more cynical dwellers to conclude, not entirely tongue-in-cheek, that a black cloud might be following the Mets. Losing 19 of 24 games coming into Sunday's play, the Mets could pin the blame on their bullpen, their offense, their defense -- anything, really, other than their starting pitching.

There was also the less quantifiable fact that the Mets never seemed to catch a break.

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In the ninth inning Sunday, they caught two, using a pair of Arizona defensive mistakes to give Brandon Nimmo a chance in a one-run game. And in the midst of a breakout season, Nimmo delivered, hitting a go-ahead, two-run homer in the ninth inning of the Mets' 5-3 win over the D-backs at Chase Field.

"We've been waiting for a big hit to happen," Nimmo said. "I don't know what it means for the future, but for right now, to get two wins in a row against a good D-backs team, that's awesome."

Video: NYM@ARI: Nimmo discusses his go-ahead home run in 9th

Consecutive wins may not seem like much, but for a Mets team that hadn't accomplished the feat in nearly a month, they were everything. Trailing for most of Sunday's game, Nimmo described a "tense" Mets dugout, staring down a series loss to a potential playoff team. Facing D-backs closer Brad Boxberger, who shut them down without issue Thursday and Friday, the Mets slid further into their shells when their first two batters in the ninth struck out.

Next up was Jose Reyes, the focal point for so many of the Mets' frustrations in recent weeks. Noticing a defensive overshift, Reyes dropped a bunt just in front of home plate, where catcher Alex Avila speared it rather than let it go foul. By the time Avila whirled around, ball in hand, Reyes was nearly at first base.

The Mets' second break happened moments later, when Jose Bautista punched an outside fastball down the right-field line. Though Bautista struck the ball well enough to send it close to the wall, it hung up for nearly five full seconds -- enough time for Statcast™ to register Jon Jay's catch probability at 99 percent. But Jay didn't catch it; the ball glanced off his glove, allowing Bautista to cruise into second with an RBI double.

Video: NYM@ARI: Bautista plates Reyes with a double to right

Still, the Mets trailed, but now the top of their order was up. Already with a single, a double and a run scored on the afternoon, Nimmo hammered a Boxberger changeup 419 feet over the fence, clapping his hands and grinning as he rounded first base. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a solo shot, and Robert Gsellman pitched around an error to record the final three outs in the ninth.

"Just elated," was how Nimmo described the moment. "It felt like a weight had been lifted off us."

Video: NYM@ARI: Gsellman induces line out to earn 3rd save

Much work remains for the Mets, who are still eight games under .500 and will play their next seven against the Rockies and Dodgers, both of whom also entered this season with playoff aspirations. But at least they now have hope. Nimmo is as hot as at any point this year. Michael Conforto is breaking out of his slump. And the Mets' starting pitching -- Zack Wheeler struck out eight over six innings of two-run ball Sunday -- continues to thrive, with the league's best ERA since May 21.

Video: NYM@ARI: Wheeler strikes out Jay looking in the 1st

Although manager Mickey Callaway noted that "the way we won is probably more significant than just getting a back-to-back win," the Mets will take the bump in the standings, too. Nimmo joked that their consecutive wins reminded him of a famous scene from "Major League II," in which fictional manager Lou Brown attempted to convince his players that winning streaks are, in spite of so much evidence to the contrary, possible.

"Yeah, it's been a while," Nimmo said, still grinning well after the game's official end. "And so for us to get that second win in a row, on a big hit, that's really good for our positivity going forward, our momentum going forward. Like I said, I don't know what it means for our future. I hope this team keeps fighting."

Video: NYM@ARI: Callaway on Mets' 5-3 win over the D-backs

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Making his own luck: Reyes' slump had grown long enough, and conspicuous enough, that he was beginning to have trouble escaping talk of the Mets releasing him. While the team did go that route with another slumping 30-something, Adrian Gonzalez, they offered Reyes a bit more rope.

He took advantage of it Sunday with one of his best games as a Met, making several slick defensive plays behind Wheeler before coming to the plate in the ninth. Pushing his bunt just far enough that Avila had to scramble out from behind the plate to grab it, Reyes dropped his head and reached a top sprint speed of 28.3 feet per second, per Statcast™ -- strong for anyone, elite for a 35-year-old. He then took second base on defensive indifference, scoring on Bautista's double.

Video: NYM@ARI: Reyes charges, fires on the run to nab Dyson

"He made a perfect bunt," Avila said. "The ball was just dead there in the grass and I was going to try to make a barehanded play."

"I just put it down and ran, man," added Reyes. "It means a lot, because I feel like I contributed today. I contributed to the ballclub. I contributed to this win."

VARGAS EJECTED
Although he did not appear in the game, Mets pitcher Jason Vargas chirped loud enough from the dugout that home-plate umpire Jim Reynolds ejected him during the fourth inning. Vargas appeared to take exception to Reynolds' calls during a four-pitch walk of Daniel Descalso, who took two pitches for balls that Statcast™ data showed as strikes.

After Reynolds ejected Vargas, Callaway emerged from the Mets' dugout for a brief conversation with the home-plate umpire. The situation escalated no further than that.

Video: NYM@ARI: Vargas ejected for arguing in the 4th inning

"I came in and told him, 'Thank you, I needed another little break to catch my breath,'" joked Wheeler, who allowed both of his runs in the fourth. "He sort of stuck up for me and voiced his opinion."

HE SAID IT
"It's a fresh breath of air. We needed that hit and he came through for us at the right time. He's becoming a very good player for us." -- Wheeler, on Nimmo's home run

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Mere minutes after his team took the lead in the ninth, first baseman Dominic Smith gave the D-backs a bit of life when he dropped Cabrera's throw on a routine ground ball, attempting to transfer it from his glove to his hand between his legs. Callaway challenged first-base umpire Bruce Dreckman's safe call, but the call would stand after a replay review. When Gsellman retired the next three batters to take him off the hook, Smith pointed to the sky in obvious relief.

"I don't think Dom Smith will try to transfer the ball in between his legs anymore," Callaway said.

Video: NYM@ARI: Avila reaches on error, call stands in 9th

UP NEXT
The Mets are 2-8 in the last 10 games Jacob deGrom has started, despite his 0.87 ERA in those contests. They can only hope a trip to hitter-happy Coors Field will help them give deGrom a bit more support. He'll open a four-game series there on Monday, starting an 8:40 p.m. ET game opposite left-hander Tyler Anderson.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Asdrubal Cabrera, Brandon Nimmo, Zack Wheeler