Aug 27

Next Year Brought Into Focus In Doubleheader With Nationals

With Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes currently on the disabled list and out for the rest of the season, Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares will get a bulk of the playing time.

Both distinguished themselves today, but in different ways.

For Nimmo, who hit third in the nightcap, his two-run homer briefly game the Mets a lead in the game they eventually lost, 5-4.

Lagares had two hits in the second game, but more impressive was how alertly he backed up right fielder Travis Taijeron on Daniel Murphy’s single to start a blurry fast relay to nail pinch-runner Edwin Jackson at the plate to end the game and preserve the Mets’ 6-5 victory.

D'ARNAUD: Blocks plate on game-ender. (AP)

D’ARNAUD: Blocks plate on game-ender. (AP)

Let’s assume Conforto’s pending shoulder surgery keeps him off the Opening Day roster, then Nimmo would likely play in right field to start the season. If not, he could start the season coming off the bench.

Nimmo isn’t a home run hitter, but there’s a lot to like about his enthusiasm and .378 on-base percentage. He can play off three outfield positions, so his versatility is a plus.

Lagares’ problem has been with his bat, but there’s nothing wrong with his defense.

That he backed up the plate is part of his job description, but with the Mets playing out the string, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see a role player just coast, but that’s not the case with Lagares.

Without Lagares’ awareness, the Mets might have lost the first game, too.

But, it’s plays like that, and Nimmo’s hitting, that should stand out to GM Sandy Alderson as he makes notes regarding next year.

LUGO PITCHES WELL:  Seth Lugo, in his start coming off the disabled list, gave up two runs on four hits with five strikeouts in the second game.

“I thought I threw the ball really well,’’ Lugo said. “I had life on my pitches and was hitting my spots.’’

Robert Gsellman was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Lugo on the roster.

In looking at next season, I see Lugo better suited as a starter and Gsellman coming out of the bullpen.

TWO FACES OF ROBLES:  We saw the two faces of Hansel Robles in today’s double-header.

In the first game Robles, struck out the only two hitters he faced. In the second game, Robles walked three straight batters, including the last two with the bases loaded to force in the tying and go-ahead runs.

Robles is wildly inconsistent, and if the Mets are auditioning for their bullpen for 2018, he must show more consistency, beginning with throwing more strikes.

The real problem I had with Robles’ second appearance was more with manager Terry Collins, who left the reliever in to walk three straight batters.

“You can’t walk guys in the big leagues,’’ Collins said. “You can’t walk three hitters in a row, like that.’’

I understand it was a double header and the bullpen was taxed, but you can’t leave a reliever in to walk three straight hitters.

Just bad managing.

THE METS AND DUSTY:  Both the Mets’ Collins and Nationals manager Dusty Baker are in the final years of their contracts.

Of course, that begs the question: If neither are brought back in 2018, would the Mets entertain signing Baker to manage them.

While the Mets are non-commital about Collins, Baker has let it be known he is interested in returning. If Baker does hook on with the Mets, it could cost them as he is making $4 million this year.

HARVEY UPDATE: Matt Harveys next game will be with the Mets. After four rehab starts – including 4.2 innings Saturday for Double-A Binghamton – the Mets announced he will be activated when the rosters are expanded Sept. 1.

The Mets will be in Houston then, so his first start will be against the Astros, who are slightly better than the Portland Sea Dogs. Harvey threw 72 pitches against Portland and probably won’t throw much more than that against Houston.

UP NEXT: The Mets are off today, then are in Cincinnati for the start of a three-game series against the Reds.