Part of the reason why the Mets were able to get back into the Wild Card race is that they stayed relatively healthy. Injured bullpen pieces came back and the rotation stayed in-tact.
Even when Robinson Cano was lost to a hamstring tear, it was shrugged off because Cano hasn’t been a core piece for the Mets this season, rather a high-priced declining veteran.
But tonight, in the Mets 5-3 loss in Atlanta, the club may have gotten a crushing blow, when leading hitter Jeff McNeil came up lame in the ninth inning, trying to leg out a single. He landed awkwardly at first, which may have caused the injury. He immediately grimaced and limped off the field.
It was called hamstring tightness by manager Mickey Callaway and his second baseman/outfielder will be evaluated tomorrow. At best this could be just a cramp in the suffocating Georgia heat, but at worst McNeil may miss significant time.
Any visit to the injured list will hurt the Mets, since McNeil will be out for at least 10 games. Currently hitting .332, he is second in the batting race to Christian Yelich and the Mets steady leadoff man.
It’s clear that when McNeil gets on base, the Mets are in business offensively. One can hope someone like Juan Lagares, who had four hits tonight can step up, but still that won’t replace the offense McNeil provides at the top of the lineup.
Again, though, we don’t know the outcome. It could be a cramp and McNeil may just miss a day with Joe Panik starting tomorrow against Dallas Keuchel.
But if it’s more, then the Mets have to suck up a major loss.