The next three weeks, as has been noted, could be an opportunity to widen the NL East lead from a skinny half game. Not only are the Bravos facing mostly the downtrodden Mets, Cubs, Phillies and Padres. Also, the Natspos have to tangle with the first-place Orioles for four starting tonight, the first-place Brewers and the Reds.
So it would be nice to keep dope-slapping the laggards and to see our rivals in the capital city struggle against quality opposition.
As for tonight, it’s time for Minor to right himself. As has also been noted here and elsewhere, his performance will likely be pivotal in the second half. On the downside, the Mets’ best player, David Wright, is back in the lineup. On the upside, they are still the Mets.
Tonight’s starting nine: BJ, Andrelton, Freeman, Justin, J-Hey, Johnson, LaStella, Bethancourt, Minor.
A quick note on Bethancourt. It’s admittedly too small a sample to mean a whole lot, but so far when he’s catching there’s a passed ball or wild pitch once every 18 innings. With Gattis this season, it’s every 13 innings and every 14 innings with Laird catching. Bethancourt just looks better behind the dish than either of them. When Gattis returns, what do you do? No way you keep Gattis’ bat on the bench, of course. Do you use Bethancourt as a defensive replacement late in games with the lead? Not sure I’ve seen that with catchers, but I don’t think it’s a ridiculous idea. Do you release Laird? Or would you rather Bethancourt return to Buford to catch regularly?
Longer term, the catcher surplus is another of those “good problems.”
* Of course, I like the Stooges, but still can’t resist. Larry Fine is from Philadelphia. Curly, Moe and Shemp Howard are native New Yorkers.