Both New York teams moved on from the latest “Subway Series” with lingering questions heading into the final three weeks of the season.
An 11-2 Yankees blowout in Sunday night’s rubber match at Citi Field was the Mets’ fourth loss in five games. An NL East division crown should be all-but-assured, but don’t tell that to Mets fans (who are probably very optimistic, as usual). Their lead over the Nationals is now six games with 13 outings remaining, but that includes hosting Washington for the season’s final series.
Slumps and skids of various lengths happen continually over 162 games, and it’s always easy to overreact. The Mets have been the best team in the NL since the All-Star Break, but this past weekend did raise some concerns for the stretch run. Before Yoenis Céspedes doubled last night, he had been in an 0-for-19 slump. Juan Uribe left the game with a bruised chest. Jacob deGrom has a WHIP of 1.64 over his last five starts. David Wright is playing through chronic back issues.
The most glaring concern highlighted Sunday, of course, is the Matt Harvey situation. In his first home start since dropping his controversial The Players Tribune mixtape (which sounds like a pretty dope early-2000s rap collective), Harvey dealt five scoreless innings, surrendering just two baserunners. Terry Collins pulled him, though, obliging his highly-publicized-yet-no-one-really-knows-what’s-going-on innings limit. (Collins verified that it is indeed an innings limit, not a pitch limit, which makes no sense to me, personally.) After Harvey was pulled, a previously perplexed Yankees lineup unloaded on the Mets bullpen, with help from some careless Mets defense.
Obviously, the Harvey issue could prove to be problematic amidst a pennant race. The current “plan” is for him to make two more similarly short outings before the postseason. Clearly, though, that strategy went disastrously on Sunday night. The last thing the Mets want is to be forced with the decision to either rely on the same gameplan, or alter Harvey’s long-term agenda in a pivotal game vs. Washington.
As for the Bombers, Sunday’s victory left a good taste in their mouth, particularly because CC Sabathia unexpectedly threw effectively, again. They’re hanging tough, winning five out of seven, but late-season issues still loom. Gardner and Ellsbury have hit .200 since the All-Star Break, Teixeira is still out for the year (although Bird has filled in admirably), and the rotation remains unreliable and banged up, causing the pitch count of Dellin Betances to dangerously pile up.
The good news for these contenders? The Mets begin a home series Monday against the putrid Braves, while the Yankees head to Toronto for three games in a must-win series for any hope of an AL East title. The bad news? For Yankees fans, Masahiro Tanaka will miss his Wednesday start due to a hamstring strain, and will be replaced by Iván Nova and his sparkling 5.11 ERA. As for the Mets, well, just don’t Google “September, 2007.”
Photo Credit: The Guardian