Mets manager Mickey Callaway wasted no time in deciding it was not worth risking Jacob deGrom's health by letting him throw a second inning earlier this week after the pitcher tossed 45 pitches in the first inning.
It was the right move, but put Callaway and the Mets under heavy criticism by some fans and media for not taking a similar approach to Yoenis Cespedes, who is clearly playing through pain associated with his quad and possibly his hamstring.
"The decision was pretty much already made," said deGrom, who recently had a start skipped and was later put on the disabled list with a hyperextended right elbow. "It's my first start back after missing one. To go out there and throw 45 (pitches) in the first inning, this isn't smart. Why go out there and risk something? I felt great honestly. That's the most frustrating part about it."
Why go out there and risk something? This is the same question being asked about Cespedes, who is the centerpiece of the lineup and earning $110 million.
The Mets need offense and Cespedes can swing the bat and make major contact, evident by how far the ball traveled Sunday when hitting a home run against Aaron Nola. However, once he's on base or in the field, it's clear he is having a difficult time running and stopping his momentum.
"He's gutting it out for the team," Callaway admitted after Sunday's game. And according to SNY's Andy Martino, the Mets are debating whether to place Cespedes -- who is not in Tuesday night's lineup -- on the DL.
This is not new, though. We've seen this movie before with Cespedes, who has missed dozens of games the last few seasons with similar leg pain. In 2016, he needed frequent rest due to this specific quad issue, which reportedly contributed to the hamstring injuries he dealt with last summer.
Mets assistant GM John Ricco told reporters this past weekend in Philadelphia that the team is not ignoring Cespedes. The coaching staff, front office, trainers and peak performance team are well aware of how Cespedes is feeling...
"We're examining that and talking through it. We feel we have confidence in that performance staff that we are going to make rational decisions," Ricco explained. "Are we going to be right 100% of the time? No, but we have to make decisions on the information we have."
The Mets were scoring 4.8 runs per game up through the point when they were 14-6. In the 17 games since, they're 5-12 and averaging 3.3 runs per game. Worse, they're averaging 2.4 runs per game during their last 11 contests, which has resulted in them going 2-9.
In other words, the offense is terrible and DL'ing Cespedes would only make it worse.
In deGrom, it's not like they didn't pitch him. They did, but he clearly had zero command and potentially feeling the impact of missing time. In either case, regardless of the stats, the eye test could tell anyone that Jake was not right and needed to be removed.
Meanwhile, the achy Cespedes is batting .360 with three HR during his last 16 games, and yet the Mets are still struggling to score runs. I can't imagine how the lineup might function without him.
My hunch is Cespedes and deGrom would both be on the disabled list right now had the team not spiraled in to the gutter after their 11-1 start.
For instance, had the Mets kept winning series, but cooled off, and sat atop the division with a 25-18 record, everyone in orange and blue would be looking at these cases in a totally different light. However, these next 20-30 games will go a long way toward informing GM Sandy Alderson's decision of whether to be a buyer or seller in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
It is a long season, this is true. The thing is, there is a stark operational difference between being below .500 and trending down and injured during late June, as the Mets were last season, compared to being below .500 and working to stay afloat in late June like the Mets were in 2015. I explained this in more detail during a post here Monday.
In the event the Mets pick up their performance, retake the top position in the standings and are fighting and clawing for a playoff spot in September, we will all be thankful that potentially Cespedes and deGrom were put on the disabled list. But, if they put Cespedes on the disabled list now and keep losing, which is probably what will happen, it's very possible the season is theoretically over when he is activated.
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!