There are always a few rubies that can be found in this garbage dump of a Mets season. This year, the shiniest of the gems are Michael Conforto’s emergence of being a star and Jacob deGrom’s recovery from surgery to being an All-Star caliber starter.
The other highlights have been the production of traded Mets Jay Bruce and Addison Reed; the professionalism of Curtis Granderson; and promotions of Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith.
Once a question to even make the Opening Day roster, Conforto began the season in a pinch-hitting role, but his success, coupled with Granderson’s slow start and injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, increased his playing time and subsequently run production to the point where he made his first All-Star team.
CONFORTO: Huge bright spot. (AP)
Conforto’s two-run homer gave him his 26th of the season, but more importantly, the Mets a two-run lead in the first inning, one they never relinquished in today’s 6-2 victory over the Phillies.
Conforto hit 12 homers last season, so his home run ceiling was just a hunch. Now, with 26, you would think 35 could be within reach with 47 games remaining.
I’ve long advocated Conforto should hit third in the order, ahead of Cespedes, and hopefully manager Terry Collins will keep him there. I also like that even with the trade of Bruce, Collins is keeping Conforto in center field. If the rest of the season is about laying the foundation for 2018, then hit Conforto third and in center and leave him there – hopefully, for the next dozen years.
Conforto’s last five hits have been homers, and since the All-Star break has 12 homers with 23 RBI.
As for deGrom, he took a line drive off his pitching arm Thursday, but all indications are he’ll make his next start, Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. DeGrom is 13-5 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. The word “ace,’’ gets thrown around a lot, but it’s clear cut when talking about deGrom, who works fast, and despite an overpowering fastball, more importantly has excellent command of all of his pitches.
With Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey on the disabled list, and Steven Matz struggling and winless in over a month, deGrom has been the rotation’s workhorse
The Mets are clearly in a rebuild, salary dump mode, which is why Bruce, Reed, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker are gone, and Asdrubal Cabrera and Granderson could soon follow. Jose Reyes will stay to be Rosario’s caddy.
Bruce hit 29 homers with 75 RBI to lead the Mets, and has already made an impact with the Indians, going 5-for-12 with three RBI. You can describe Bruce, Reed, Walker and Granderson as consummate professionals.
Rosario booted a play in his debut that cost the Mets a game, but Bruce and Walker were seen in the dugout giving him counsel on what he should have done differently.
As for Granderson, he’s still being shopped, and maybe raised his value with three more hits today, including a two-run homer. He won’t be re-signed for 2018 and it is puzzling why there isn’t more interest. Granderson has four homers and nine RBI over his last ten games.
With Granderson, Bruce and the other veterans with expiring contracts assuredly not going to be here next season, the future belongs to Conforto, Rosario and Smith.
They, along with deGrom, give the Mets something to build on for next year.