PHILADELPHIA -- While the Mets still have a little less than two weeks left in their season, the club will make some decisions in these final days with 2019 and beyond in mind.
"We have to do everything can to make sure a June doesn't happen again," manager Mickey Callaway said of his team's five-win month earlier this summer. "Because it derails your whole season."
That'll start with keeping a keen eye on innings counts for the pitching staff, with its health paramount to the club's success. Right-hander Noah Syndergaard has logged just 135 1/3 innings. Lefty Steven Matz, although he has already pitched the most innings of any year in his career, has thrown only 140. Ace right-hander Jacob deGrom, at 202 innings, just surpassed his previous career high on Sunday night. But in the heat of a National League Cy Young Award race, deGrom isn't holding back any time soon.
Callaway said on Monday he "is in a pretty good spot" in terms of innings; the only pitcher with whom the Mets may be conservative is Monday night's starter Zack Wheeler, who has been one of baseball's best pitchers since the All-Star break. No pitcher has more second-half wins than Wheeler's eight and his 1.32 ERA in that span is the second-lowest in the big leagues.
But Wheeler, who entered the series opener against the Phillies just 10 innings shy of a career high of 185 1/3, posted unusually low velocity and spin rate numbers during his previous start against the Marlins on Wednesday. A six-hour rain delay likely contributed to that, but the Mets will take no chances with Wheeler, whose injury history is extensive. Tommy John surgery kept him out of the Majors in 2015 and '16, and a stress reaction in his right arm ended his '17 season before the end of July.
"He's obviously had a great season, is in a very good spot health-wise right now, and we're going to pay attention to him probably the most," Callaway said.
The Mets will also use their remaining games to evaluate the catchers. Tomas Nido, 24, started on Monday for the fourth time in six games. Kevin Plawecki started each of New York's final two games in Boston over the weekend.
"We continue to want to see both of them," Callaway said. "I think Nido has earned the right to catch some more games given what he's done the last three or four times he's caught."
Nido has hit .207 in 29 at-bats since being recalled at the end of August, an improvement from the .159 mark he posted during a two-month stint in Majors to start the season. More importantly, for Callaway, the Mets had allowed just two runs total in their previous three games with Nido behind the plate.
"He's been making better contact and putting a few balls in play, getting some big hits for us as well," Callaway said. "That's been a plus. But the thing that we always want to concentrate on with our catchers is catch, throw and call a good game. He's been doing a really good job at that."
In order to keep Syndergaard on regular rest, the Mets pushed Jason Vargas' next start back to Thursday's series opener at Washington.
"He tends to do OK with that," Callaway said. "We're lucky that we have a guy that has been around for so long that's willing to do that."
Wright takes home piece of CBP
No active player has hit more home runs against the Phillies than David Wright (36). With the recent news that he'll make a long-awaited return from injury during the Mets' final homestand at the end of the month before retiring, it's cemented that number will not rise.
Former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel brought a parting gift for Wright to the Mets' visiting clubhouse before Monday's game: the "NYM" plate from the out-of-town scoreboard on Citizens Bank Park's right-field wall. Wright said the gesture was very cool. He'll be able to stash it with the No. 5 panel from Fenway Park he received from the Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia over the weekend.