The New York Mets are rumored to be taking a big hit in their playoff race, with an injury to Yoenis Cespedes that could cause the slugger to miss some crucial time.
Cespedes gave Mets fans a collective gasp on Wednesday night when he took an 89 mile-per-hour fastball inside off his hand. Cespedes fell to the ground in pain as the medical staff helped him back to the clubhouse.
The team was able to avoid the worst, as the New York Times reported that X-rays showed that Cespedes only bruised his left middle and index fingers, not a break that could have ended his season.
“That’s always scary,” Mets manager Terry Collins said (via ESPN). “Very relieved he’s OK.”
But with just eight days until the playoffs start, the New York Mets could be at a big disadvantage with their best hitter out of the lineup. The Mets have just a one game lead on the Los Angeles Dodgers, with home field advantage in the National League Divisional series at stake.
Cespedes reportedly told manager Terry Collins after the game that he could play on Thursday if needed, but the Mets will be giving him a bit more time off to heal. Just how long is yet to be determined, but the team could be in a tough spot. The race with the Dodgers is close enough to warrant Cespedes, but ideally the team would want him resting and healthy for the playoffs next week.
While the rumors surrounding Yoenis Cespedes and his possible return are still unclear, the New York Mets could be facing other troubles, as well. The Mets also had to remove Wilmer Flores from the game after he suffered back stiffness, and they already canceled Steven Matz’s upcoming start, as he also is dealing with a bad back.
As the New York Times notes, there are rumors that the New York Mets could keep Matz off the roster for the start of the playoffs.
“The Mets have until Oct. 9, the first day of the series, to make a determination on Matz. But the call will not be easy. If they decide to include him on the N.L.D.S. roster and his back tightens up during the series, the Mets could replace him with another pitcher. But Matz would be ineligible to play in the next round if the Mets were to advance. In that case, he would be eligible to return for the World Series, if the Mets made it.
If the Mets wait and let Matz heal, they could add him to the championship series roster, but that would require them to advance without Matz, who might be the only lefty in the rotation.”
While Matz could likely be replaced — and the team already has done well without him in the rotation for much of the year — Cespedes would be much harder to replace. Since coming to the team at the trade deadline, he has led an offensive outburst, taking the team from the lowest-scoring in the majors to the highest.
To make matters worse, the Mets blew a 5-0 lead on Thursday and ended up losing in an all-around sloppy game that included a near brawl when Mets pitcher Hansel Robles threw a pitch that came high and inside to Phillies batter Cameron Rupp.
The Mets lost a critical chance to go up two games on the Dodgers with just four games left to play.
While the rumors around the New York Mets and their injury woes are still unclear, the team will have a few days to sort it out. The Mets end the season with a series against the Washington Nationals, and then they will be off until Friday, when they start the NLDS either in Los Angeles or Queens.
[Picture by Kevin E. Cox and Rich Schultz / Getty Images]