Torrens smashes 1st (and 2nd!) HRs to guide Mets to sweep

June 6th, 2024

WASHINGTON -- Tuesday’s game against the Nationals had only just ended, but Mets manager Carlos Mendoza was plenty aware of what had happened some 200-plus miles away in Brooklyn. That evening, rehabbing catcher caught a combined no-hitter for the High-A Cyclones, adding an exclamation point to what was already a successful rehabilitation from left thumb surgery.

Although Alvarez won’t join the Mets in the London Series this weekend, his return from the injured list could happen quickly after that. When it does, the Mets will need to make a difficult roster decision, choosing between and as Alvarez’s primary backup -- possibly for the rest of the season.

Nido, who has been in New York’s organization for a dozen years, was the obvious choice until less than a week ago, when the Mets designated Omar Narváez for assignment and swung a deal for Torrens, a 28-year-old veteran with mixed success over six years in the Majors. Both have since stated their cases, but never as emphatically as Torrens did on Wednesday, hitting his first two home runs of the season in a 9-1 drubbing of the Nationals.

Torrens also caught a gem from , who delivered eight stellar innings at Nationals Park to secure a series sweep. The Mets have won three games in a row for the first time since April 14-20.

“I feel so grateful to be here with the New York Mets,” Torrens said.

In one sense, Torrens has been learning everything on the fly with a new organization since joining the Mets last Friday at Citi Field. In another, he was already well prepared for this job. At 16 years old in 2012, Torrens signed his first professional contract with the Yankees’ organization, where he met Mendoza and Severino -- both also advancing through the Minor League system at that time. Severino recalled beating Torrens in ping-pong games when both were just prospects.

Unlike Mendoza and Severino, who moved straight to Queens after long careers in the Bronx, Torrens traveled a more winding path through the farm systems of the Reds, Padres, Mariners, Cubs (deep breath), Orioles and Nationals, before circling back to the Mariners and Yankees.

Finally, last week, the Yankees dealt Torrens to the Mets for cash. Upon arriving at Citi Field, he reunited with old friends and mentors. On the eve of Severino’s start, he and Torrens caught up to discuss their plan against the Nationals. Then they executed it, with Severino allowing only one run over those eight innings.

“Torrens is really good,” Severino said. “I didn’t shake much. He called great pitches. He’s got a great bat. He can hit. He can throw guys out at second base. I think he deserves to be here.”

Torrens did all that and more on Wednesday, finishing 2-for-4 as the Mets’ No. 9 hitter and throwing a potential base stealer out at second. His first home run was an opposite-field shot off Nationals lefty Patrick Corbin. His second snuck over the fence in straightaway center to showcase his pop.

“Pretty nice game overall,” Mendoza said.

The Mets still have a week to decide if they want to stick with Torrens as Alvarez’s backup. Their alternative is Nido, who has a .755 OPS over his last 13 games and rates highly in several defensive areas, including Statcast’s blocking and base-stealing metrics. Theoretically, the Mets could carry three catchers, but neither Nido nor Torrens offers enough offensive potential for them to consider doing that.

These are the types of difficult decisions at the margins that can alter the course of a season. Over the past week alone, the Mets have chosen Torrens over Narváez, Mark Vientos over Brett Baty, and Dedniel Núñez over a host of other relievers. Each of those decisions has helped the Mets reach their current perch: winners of three straight games, with some real hope and momentum for the first time since April.

Their challenge will be maintaining those good vibes despite a pair of upcoming off-days and a two-game London Series against the Phillies beginning Saturday.

With a new look behind the plate and elsewhere, they’re up for the challenge.

“These three games here get [us] some momentum going to a big event in London for Major League Baseball, obviously -- two important games against the Phillies, a really good team,” Mendoza said. “For us to go here and get the sweep, there’s some really good momentum going.”