It’s A Look at Next Year For The Mets

AP Photo/Adam Hunger

DJ Stewart had a career night at Citi Field Wednesday and with the Mets playing out the string he delivered a 10th inning winning run. It wasn’t a classic first career walk-off RBI that gave the Mets a 6-5 win that hurt the Texas Rangers as they dropped to third place in the AL West division race.

The pitch thrown from Aroldis Chapman with the bases loaded hit Stewart and forced in the winning run. For Stewart, who has a one-year contract, his career night included another defensive gem in right field. He also became the tenth player in franchise history with a multi-homer game and walk-off RBI.

As they say, Stewart is getting a look. In the everyday lineup he is one of the Mets that is making an impression for 2024, as is utility infielder Jonathan Arauz and Jeff Brigham out of the bullpen. Arauz has a steady glove at third base and is also getting a look after getting the call from Triple-A Syracuse.

Brigham threw two scoreless innings to earn his first win of the season. He has been reliable for manager Buck Showalter since his recall this week from Syracuse and he escaped a bases-loaded no-out jam in the tenth.

And Friday night when the Mets open a three-game series with the AL West leading Mariners at Citi Field, they will finally unveil No. 4 prospect Ronnie Mauricio.

The Mets are out of contention, so the 22-year old Mauricio will generate interest to fans who show up at Citi Field and will get playing time. The Mets at this point are playing out the string and moving ahead to 2024. Stewart, though, is making an impression with eight homers, three doubles, nine runs scored and 15 RBI in his last 13 games.

He has that mentality,” manager Buck Showalter said about Stewart. “He keeps grinding. He proves people wrong and jumps at the opportunity.” There is every reason to understand that mentality and Stewart with a consistent September could be in the plan for next year either as a solid DH, off the bench, or that everyday player in right field.

Stewart would like to be in that plan but that awaits decisions of the Mets hierarchy in what is expected to be a busy offseason. There is a commitment to contend next year, and though owner Steve Cohen will spend, he will not break the bank. Basically, there won’t be another Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander deal but there will be an attempt to ink Pete Alonso to a long term contract that is sufficient for both sides.

For now, though, Stewart is making the best of his playing time. He was instrumental and became the first Mets player with eight or more homers in a 13-game span since Neil Walker in April of 2016.

Stewart heard about his home run streak. He heard the slim crowd of 23,849 chanting his name after smacking a game-tying two-run homer in the eighth.

Been a tough year for us as a team, but you enjoy those moments,” Stewart said. “For me to start the season in Syracuse and come up here and hear that, it’s really awesome.”

He said that streaks don’t always last and playing with a one-year deal means looking for a spot next year. He could make the outfield more interesting if the home run production continues. Stewart could force the Mets to part ways with DH Daniel Vogelbach who scored the Mets first run with a solo homer in the second inning,

But Vogelbach has also picked up his production (.295/426/705) with six home runs over his last 16 games. Showalter alluded to Arauz and outfielder Rafael Ortega getting more opportunities.

The defensive gem from Stewart in the ninth inning caught the attention of Showalter. Marcus Semien hit a deep ball to right-center and Stewart made a terrific, backhanded catch as he slammed the wall and fell to the ground with the score tied at 5-5.

The wall lost,” Showalter said. But he was talking about the opportunity Stewart is receiving as the Mets play out the string. He was with the Orioles when Showalter was the manager in 2019, so there is that familiarity after signing a minor league contract in February.

It’s Buck trusting me to do my job,” Stewart said. “I’m staying healthy, teammates are giving me confidence. I’m comfortable what I’m doing in the cage and the guys around me give me confidence. When you are confident going into the box in the Major Leagues, it makes it easier on you and you are not thinking about the small things with your swing.”

He is producing and looking for a role in 2024. They will also be looking at Mauricio Friday night and playing out the string will be more interesting. For the Mets, not a part of October baseball,the looks will be important.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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