NEW YORK -- Given strong evidence that they have prevented their two positive COVID-19 cases from becoming a clubhouse outbreak, the Mets on Tuesday will begin making up the four games postponed due to those infections.
The team will play a twi-night doubleheader of seven-inning games against the Marlins at Citi Field, followed by seven-inning doubleheaders Friday and Sunday at Yankee Stadium. In addition, the Mets and Yankees will make up their final postponed game Sept. 3 at Citi Field.
If all goes to schedule, Tuesday will mark the first time in 29 days that all 30 Major League teams take the field.
“It’s a challenge, but this is a year that can’t be about excuses,” general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said of the Mets playing nine games in six days. “We are not the only team that has faced adversity with scheduling. We’re not the only team that’s faced adversity with losing players or coaches for a period of time. … We’ve got to think about what we do have and find ways to be competitive with the schedule that we’re faced with.”
The Mets had four games -- one against the Marlins, three against the Yankees -- postponed last week after one player and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the fifth team to have games postponed due to positive tests. The infected individuals remained in Miami, along with four others whom the club determined to have had close contact with them, while the rest of the team flew back to New York.
The team did not reveal the identities of the player and staffer who tested positive, but Van Wagenen said both have seen their symptoms mostly resolve. They are undergoing daily testing and will remain in Miami “until it’s safe not only for them, but for others around them.” The four close contacts were on their way back to New York on Monday.
The Mets’ schedule is now as follows:
Tuesday, Aug. 25: Doubleheader vs. Marlins, 5:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Aug. 26: Single game vs. Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET
Thursday, Aug. 27: Single game vs. Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET
Friday, Aug. 28: Doubleheader @ Yankees, time TBA
Saturday, Aug. 29: Single game @ Yankees, time TBA
Sunday, Aug. 30: Doubleheader @ Yankees, time TBA
The Mets have not yet announced their pitching plans for the week. Two-time reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom would be on turn to start one of the games Tuesday, but the team has not confirmed he will do so. Much will depend on Michael Wacha and David Peterson, two starters on the injured list due to shoulder inflammation. It is plausible that both could return this week.
Other options for the Mets include Rick Porcello, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner planned to hold one-on-one workouts for members of that group on Monday, at which point officials would make more educated decisions on who should slot where.
“We have to be creative at this point,” Van Wagenen said. “Call it ‘openers,’ call it ‘bulk-inning pitchers’ -- I have a feeling that we’re probably going to be running through a number of different scenarios.”
From this point forward, Van Wagenen said, the Mets will treat every game as a “must-win” given their difficult schedule and the fact that, if the season ended on Monday, they would not qualify as one of the NL’s eight playoff teams. The Mets entered the day in third place in the NL East with a 12-14 record, which is ninth-best in the NL.
Key to everything, Van Wagenen stressed, will be the team’s ability to play the schedule as it is now written. He, other Mets officials and various players have lauded the procedures the team put in place to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in their clubhouse. Although Van Wagenen said he does not know how two members of the organization’s traveling “bubble” became infected, the GM has “a high degree of confidence that this exposure … is not a result of anyone misbehaving or failing to be responsible with their own safety.”
“What we’re all learning is that this virus continues to have a lot more questions for us than answers,” Van Wagenen added. “We do feel comfortable that the spread has not come from player to player or coach to coach. At this point, our best guess is that it came from some outside spot. But that is simply that -- it’s a guess. At this point, we just don’t know and we may never know.”