The Mets have launched themselves back in to a pennant race, which has opened the floodgates for questions about the current roster, schedule and missing players.
Here are four from Twitter, followed by my answers....
The truth is that only Seth Lugo has been impressive over the course of the full season, while everyone else has been up, down or injured. However, during the past month, multiple relievers have stepped up their game, specifically Justin Wilson and Luis Avilan.
Prior to Friday's game, Wilson had pitched in 15 games since returning from the injured list on July 2. In that time he had faced 49 batters, given up just one run, and struck out 11 batters. This is what he was expected to do, though, especially after signing a two-year, $10 million contract this past winter.
Avilan, on the other hand, signed a minor-league deal that is paying him $1.6 million. It was an unheralded acquisition given that he's an eight-year veteran with a career 3.22 ERA pitching entirely out of the bullpen. Nevertheless, his signing came and went without much fanfare.
He struggled to start the season. However, since being promoted from Triple-A in early July, Avilan has faced 32 batters, made 12 appearances and not allowed a single run earned run of his own.
In the field, second and third base. However, I don't see the Mets removing Todd Frazier, despite not hitting well since the All-Star break. His leadership and reassurance to teammates is valuable, even if we don't always see it on TV. He also had a clutch three-run home run for the Mets on Friday night.
The signing of Joe Panik has to upgrade second base because Adeiny Hechavarria has been a full-force liability since taking over for the injured Robinson Cano. Panik has been one of the league's worst hitters since the start of last season. However, even at his worst, he rarely strikes out, he puts the ball in play and he's experienced at second base during a pennant race.
In other words, Brodie Van Wagenen has to continue working to add to his pitching. The signing of free-agent Brad Brach may prove to be a nice addition to the bullpen. However, he would be wise to try and find a free agent or someone available in trade that can back up the starting rotation. I'm a fan of Walker Lockett, but I'd be lying if I said I would be calm and cool watching him start a game in September because one of the team's current staff members hit the Injured List. Worse, if a second pitcher goes down, Van Wagenen will be turning to Ervin Santana, who would need a time machine to give me confidence in his ability to shine.
It's weird to say it, but how about Ruben Tejada? Yes, that Ruben Tejada.
The Mets signed him to a minor-league deal just before the end of spring training.
Tejada, 29, spent his nine seasons with the Mets, debuting as a 20-year-old shortstop in 2010. He never racked up more than 501 plate appearances in a season, yet produced 1.5 WAR three different times..
In 67 games this season in Triple-A, Tejada has played shortstop, second, and third base, while batting .340 with a .422 OBP and 25 extra base hits, including six home runs.
Panik was obviously signed to be the full-time replacement for Cano. However, adding Tejada would give Callaway a second option that can also spot Frazier at third and Rosario at shortstop.
The last time Tejada took the field in a Mets uniform was when he had his leg broken by Chase Utley during the 2015 postseason. He has been a folk hero among most Mets fans ever since that day and he would no doubt see tremendous support if put on the big-league roster.
In case you're wondering, it will not be Tim Tebow, who spent all spring training fielding questions about whether he might finally make his big-league debut in September.
Unfortunately for him, after hitting .163 with four home runs and 98 strike outs in 77 games with Syracuse, Tebow's season ended after he cut his hand on a ball hit to the outfield.
His 2018 season also ended early after he had surgery on a broken bone in his hand.
I'm actually a bit worried about Nimmo, who I believe has the personality and talent to be one of the most iconic players in team history. He entered this year hoping to build on his terrific 2018.
However, he went down in late May with what was initially described as just a stiff neck. He had an MRI that was announced with good news and described his situation as just inflammation. Naturally, three days later, it was revealed that he was actually sidelined with a bulging cervical disc that was putting pressure on a nerve and causing extreme pain in his neck, all of which was the result of crashing into the outfield wall during spring training.
This likely explains why he had been struggling to hit above .200 during the games he was able to play.
In early June, Nimmo picked up two hits in three rehab games before being shut down due to more pain, after which he was jetted off to Los Angeles to get a second opinion from Dr. Robert Watkins. Watkins is the same renowned back specialist that treated David Wright.
It took another month before Nimmo was mostly pain free and began doing baseball activities. It is said he could potentially return to the Mets before September, yet other reports indicate he is still several weeks away from game action.
In other words, like when Lucas Duda dealt with a similar situation a few years, I need to see Nimmo on field throwing well, hitting, running hard and showing he's pain free before I can even pencil him to next year's roster let alone count on him as a starting outfielder. I hate saying that, because he's one of my favorite players, but -- as Duda will tell you -- any subluxation with swelling and nerve pain is a long and winding road to recovery.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!