McDonald: Brodie Van Wagenen Is Betting A Lot On The 2020 Season

Brodie Van Wagenen is no fool. He knows someone new will be signing the paychecks at Citi Field next season.

So if he wants to remain gainfully employed in Queens, the Mets will need to have a strong season and that means playing meaningful games in October.

With only 60 games to the playoffs, he’s all-in and that means the Mets are going to put their top talent on the roster. Prized prospect Andres Gimenez was called up and on the 30-man roster to start, even if he may not be ready by tradition metrics.

“Andres was a player that we felt like on Opening Day gives us a chance to help us win games,” Van Wagenen said on a Zoom call with reporters. “He can win games with his speed, he can win games with his glove, and obviously with the bat. (He has) the ability to play all sorts of different variables.”

He can run and he can field and that will help the Mets with an expanded roster for the first week. If he sticks around remains to be seen.

But the clock has begun on Gimenez, something his predecessor Sandy Alderson would have scoffed at. Why pay a player a year early if you can keep him in the minors for a few more weeks.

That thought never crossed Van Wagenen’s mind, because he is all-in in 2020. Although he didn’t dare the rest  of the league to “come and get him,” he did say he believed the Mets would win the NL East.

And you know what he may be right. With other teams taking hits because of COVID-19, the Mets stayed pretty safe from the virus. However, the more traditional injury bug reared its ugly head with Marcus Stroman going on the Injured List yesterday because of a torn calf.

Add to that Noah Syndergaard being out with Tommy John and the once vaulted Mets starting staff is looking rather thin.

“As far as who’s gonna be starting on that fifth game or fourth game, depending on how (Luis Rojas) sets his rotation, it’s not predetermined who that’s gonna be,” he said. “So if Corey (Oswalt) or any of the guys on our team are available and needed to throw tomorrow or the next day after that, Luis won’t be hesitant to use those guys. We’ll make the final decision on that last starting role here in the coming days.”

That fifth starter could be top pitching prospect David Peterson, who is another young player that couple be contributing soon.

“He’s had a great spring training, he’s had a great summer camp. I think he’s showing us that this guy has major league ability,” In a shortened season, with a 30-man roster, he’s one of our most talented pitchers. So we’re gonna have to consider him at whatever point that makes the most sense.”

Next week? September? You never know. As the season starts tomorrow, the Mets will be looking to make waves immediately against the Braves. Jacob deGrom will be on the mound looking to lead the way.

And the Mets need to win deGrom’s starts even more now with a short staff. They need to hope Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha both have bounce back seasons.

The bullpen needs to be better too. It looks better on paper with the additions of Dellin Betances, Chasen Shreve and Hunter Strickland, but both Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz need to get back to form, while Robert Gsellman and Brad Brach need to get back on the field.

Maybe that’s why there isn’t going to defined roles as the season starts.

“Luis is gonna be able to utilize these guys in the right situation at the right moment based on the availability and the matchups,” Van Wagenen said. “We’re gonna try to keep away from defined roles, but we’ve got confidence in (Edwin) Diaz. He’s done it, he’s accomplished it at this level. He’s pitching with great confidence. … (Jeurys) Familia has been a completely different pitcher in the summer camp than what he was last year. The work these guys have done has paid off, and I would put Dellin Betances in that same conversation.”

At least Seth Lugo is a constant there.

Anyway, it’s still a huge bet Van Wagenen is making. He is a hell of a salesman and may be able to talk any new boss into keeping him around.

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