From a competitive standpoint, sitting out a weekend might help both teams. The Yankees were just swept by the Tampa Bay Rays, with their ever-nimble roster of useful position players and little-known power arms in the bullpen. And while the Yankees are troubled by their annual injury plague, the Rays also have two starters (Charlie Morton and Yonny Chirinos) and a very good reliever (Jose Alvarado) on the injured list.
The Coronavirus Outbreak
Sports and the Virus
Updated Sept. 9, 2020
Here’s what’s happening as the world of sports slowly comes back to life:
- September Saturdays at Penn State are usually the apex of a week of hype. Now, as at other college football destinations, the approach of autumn has been unusually quiet there.
- More than half the players who made the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open were not supposed to be there. It’s a little bit easier when there are no fans, some say.
- In a pandemic, getting to a triathlon is as hard as finishing it. The first Ironman race since March, in Tallinn, Estonia, included travel restrictions, temperature checks, masked volunteers and medals handed over in bags.
The Mets had just won three games from the Marlins, who are slumping but still in second place in the mediocre National League East. The Atlanta Braves are in first, but their rotation is in shambles and their dynamic young stars, second baseman Ozzie Albies and outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., are out with wrist injuries.
The Mets could use a starter like Zack Wheeler, who fled New York last December for a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies. Wheeler has thrived in Philadelphia — he is 3-0 with a 2.81 earned run average — but his new team is squandering its luck as the healthiest roster in the division.
Through Thursday, the Phillies had led by at least two runs in each of their last six losses, undone by a bullpen whose 8.07 earned run average was by far the worst in the majors. The Phillies relievers make the Mets’ bullpen (4.56 E.R.A.) look like the 1990 Nasty Boys, who led the Cincinnati Reds to a title.
The point is that the Mets, who are 12-14, have a chance, even without two players they were counting on — designated hitter Yoenis Cespedes and starter Marcus Stroman — who opted out of the shortened season. Their hitters have the best on-base percentage in the majors, at .356, but they have mostly wasted those opportunities, ranking last in the majors in batting average with runners in scoring position, at .214.
Jacob deGrom has been dazzling as usual, with a 1.93 E.R.A. in five starts, though he has not yet worked past the sixth inning. Seth Lugo is poised for his spot in the patchwork rotation, making Edwin Diaz the closer again. Predictably, Diaz blew a save on Wednesday, but he preserved a victory by striking out the side in the ninth. He has faced 47 batters and struck out 24, and deserves this latest chance to be the lockdown closer of the Mets’ dreams.
In any case, it is comforting to worry about on-field matters after four months without baseball. Local and national television ratings are up across the sport — even with rare late summer competition from the N.B.A. and the N.H.L. — and the Mets are compelling to follow; their broadcast teams are among the best in the game, and the roster is talented and likable.