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Energy Crisis ’17

Which Met crisis was the overriding one Friday night? It’s hard to keep them straight. Harking all the way back to April 27, Noah Syndergaard [1] not being able to lift his arm was the worst possible news. Then it was Yoenis Cespedes [2] limping into second hours later. Oh wait — Syndergaard grabbed something and left a game in the second inning. Could it get any worse than Ces and Thor both going on the DL? How about Matt Harvey [3] being suspended, missing a start and being surrounded by loud whispers of discomfiting concern? That was huger than huge…until Jeurys Familia [4] was found to be experiencing a serious-sounding condition that required immediate surgery and has him sidelined for the bulk of the rest of the year.

With Familia’s long-term absence the most recently spotlighted crisis, it was easy to forget Harvey was making his first start since his five-alarm suspension. The fall of the Dark Knight couldn’t have been a bigger story for a few news cycles. By the time Matt took the mound in Milwaukee, it all seemed so three days ago.

Unlike last weekend, Harvey showed up, so that was a victory of a sort. He gave the Mets five innings that positioned them for a victory of a more substantial sort, then a portion of a sixth that basically ended that possibility. We might have been able to look back on Matt’s return as gritty and gutty and an encouraging first step had his manager pinch-hit for him when the scored was knotted at two and the pitcher had danced through figurative raindrops — every other Brewer plate appearance seemed to take half-an-hour — to keep it that way. We won’t as much now because he was so thoroughly throttled in the sixth. Still, it was a start in the sense that Matt had to get going again somewhere, and a so-so Harvey, especially within the context of what the 2017 Mets have become, is better than no Harvey whatsoever…and no worse an option than erstwhile seatfiller Adam Wilk [5], now a member in good standing of the Minnesota Twins [6].

The Brewers looked alive in their 7-4 victory [7]. The Mets looked obligated to be there. Their daubers weren’t irretrievably down (witness the fleeting ninth-inning rally that didn’t go as far as needed) but they just seemed outpaced. A Brewer stole a run. A Met got picked off second. That kind of night.

At least we didn’t have to immediately worry how the late innings would be structured in Familia’s absence. Addison Reed [8] didn’t have to take care of the ninth inning save, somebody else didn’t have to be responsible for holding the eighth-inning lead. It was a night when relief pitching was deployed neither strategically nor tactically. The Mets used their bullpen because games have nine innings and their starter was done after five. He pitched into the sixth, but he was already finished.

Positives were discernible if you were of a mind to mine them from the Milwaukee muck. Neil Walker [9] registered three hits, including a long home run. Asdrubal Cabrera [10] was listed in the lineup, didn’t have to leave it and managed to double and score. Lucas Duda [11] still exists and also doubled. Those old pros, however much they’ve been known to creak, will come in handy in continuing the pursuit of the 162-game schedule, 128 games of which remain, none of whose outcomes are preordained. Met tomorrows at Miller Park have been historically tricky to traverse [12], but another game awaits, and another game is another chance to get revved up.

Jaime DeJesus put together quite a feature on my new book Piazza: Catcher, Slugger, Icon, Star [13] for Aspire magazine. I invite you to check it out here [14].