NEW YORK -- Entering Thursday’s series opener, the Mets’ roster sheet contained 13 active position players, ranging from red-hot to ice-cold and everything in between. If one were to rank those 13 based upon how badly they needed a breakout game, the list would have certainly begun with James McCann and J.D. Davis.
The former had had more surgeries than home runs since April. The latter had been statistically one of the unluckiest hitters in the league. So it was nothing short of cathartic for those two to go a combined 4-for-8 with two home runs and eight RBIs in the Mets’ 10-0 drubbing of the Marlins at Citi Field, quieting -- at least for a night -- whispers about their roles on the team.
“We all know what J.D. is capable of, and Mac’s track record,” manager Buck Showalter said, before adding: “We’re trying to see if everybody can play to their potential. A lot of times the pitchers don’t cooperate, but I like our guys. I like the players we have, and I don’t spend any time coveting anybody else’s.”
Showalter was referring to the notion that the Mets could upgrade their catcher or designated hitter positions before the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline -- something that remains a possibility, but will become less so if McCann, Davis and Dominic Smith continue hitting as they have in recent days.
McCann, who had contributed a key RBI single to New York’s 10th-inning rally Wednesday in Cincinnati, hit a three-run homer out of the nine hole Thursday to break the game open in the fourth. Davis, who cracked the starting lineup due to the presence of Marlins lefty Daniel Castano, followed with his first career grand slam off reliever Jimmy Yacabonis in the fifth and finished a triple shy of the cycle.
It was more than enough offensive backing for Mets pitcher Trevor Williams, who delivered his longest, best and most efficient start of the season, holding the Marlins to two hits in seven innings.
“Sitting for a long time on the bench because the offense is scoring runs is always a good thing,” Williams said with a smile.
McCann’s job has always seemed more secure because of both his contract -- he’s on the second season of a four-year, $40.6 million deal -- and his expertise behind the plate. Still, the Mets expected much more offensively from McCann, whose OPS briefly dipped under .500 earlier this month. Given the depth of McCann’s struggles, it seemed natural to wonder if the Mets might pursue Cubs star Willson Contreras in a trade, or call up their own 20-year-old uber-prospect, Francisco Álvarez.
Two solid games won’t hush that line of thinking, but an extended hot streak could. As Showalter noted, barely eight weeks have passed since McCann underwent surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in his left wrist; he’s only now beginning to reclaim his normal strength.
“It’s been a strange year for me -- a slow start to the season, and then right as I feel like I’m starting to get going, the hand pops up,” McCann said. “It hasn’t been going great since coming back, but I definitely feel like the strength is starting to come back. I’m starting to get my timing, my feel -- everything -- and string some quality at-bats together.”
For both McCann and Davis, it’s not too late to make an impression on Mets general manager Billy Eppler, who still has nearly four weeks to play with until the Trade Deadline.
“We have the utmost confidence in ourselves and the guys in the dugout,” McCann said. “That’s what’s so special about this team.”