Opposite Dugout: Mets’ hot start continues despite shortage of catchers

mets-logo-square.jpgManager: Mickey Callaway (1st season)

Record: 12-2

Last 10 games: 9-1

Who to watch: 1B Adrián González (.242, 9 RBIs), SS Asdrúbal Cabrera (.315, 3 HR, 5 RBIs), LF Yoenis Céspedes (3 HR, 12 RBIs), RHP Jacob deGrom (2-0, 3.06 ERA), RHP Zack Wheeler (1-0, 1.29 ERA), RHP Jeurys Familia (0.00 ERA, 7 saves)

Season series vs. Nationals: 3-0

Pitching probables:

April 16: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (0-0) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (2-0), 7:10 p.m., MASN
April 17: LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-1) vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (1-0), 7:10 p.m., MASN
April 18: RHP Tanner Roark (1-1) vs. LHP Steven Matz (1-1), 7:10 p.m. MASN

Inside the Mets:

The best start in Mets history continues as the club heads into its second series of the year against the Nationals. One of baseball’s biggest surprises this season, first-year manager Mickey Callaway and his Mets are exceeding expectations with their National League East-leading 12-2 record and outscoring opponents 65-43. Just last week, they swept the Nationals, their first three-game sweep of the Nats since 2015. The Mets are currently six games ahead of the Nationals.

Since coming back from the disabled list on April 5, center fielder Michael Conforto is batting .250 with a .417 on-base percentage, two doubles, one homer and three RBIs. He’s also reached base safely in all nine games he’s played in. First baseman Adrián González has silenced doubters with a .242/.333/.364 slashline, nine RBIs and a home run (a grand slam against the Nats in their last meeting). Left fielder Yoenis Céspedes is struggling with a .190 average, but leads the Mets with three homers and 12 RBIs. As a team, the Mets hold a .333 on-base percentage, seventh-highest in the majors. While it seems that everything is coming up Milhouse for the Mets, they still have some serious concerns in the catcher spot. Kevin Plawecki suffered a broken hand when he was hit by a pitch on Wednesday night against the Marlins, and could be out a month or more. Travis d’Arnaud is down with a torn UCL in his right elbow and was recently transferred to the 60-day disabled list. The Mets’ current catching options are rookie Tómas Nido, ranked as the team’s No. 6 prospect by Baseball Prospectus, and former National Jose Lobaton. For now, it appears the Mets will go with what they have behind the plate.

The Mets have been waiting for their injury-plagued rotation to align again since the 2015 season and it looks like they’re getting their wish. Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler have finally pitched in succession. Mets starters have a 3.35 ERA, have posted a 1.102 WHIP and have held opponents to a .209 batting average. Overall, the pitching staff has posted a 2.58 ERA and has allowed two runs or fewer in eight of their 12 games. Monday starter DeGrom beat the Nats on April 5 in D.C., tossing six innings of four-hit, one-run ball, and the Mets have yet to lose in the right-hander’s three starts. He’s 6-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 13 lifetime starts against Washington. Wheeler, who starts Tuesday night, dominated in his long-awaited comeback from Tommy John surgery Wednesday against the Marlins, the first Mets starter this season to work into the seventh inning, the righty fanned seven with one walk and just one run (a solo home run) allowed on two hits in his first start since the 2015 season. Lefty Steven Matz, who starts the finale on Wednesday, didn’t get a decision in his April 7 start at Nationals Park, despite yielding an unearned run on three hits over five innings with eight strikeouts. In five career starts versus the Nats, he’s 1-3 with a sparkling 1.85 ERA.

Mets starters are averaging around 5 1/2 innings per appearance creating extra work for the bullpen, which has answered the call with a 6-0 record and a 1.51 ERA. New York’s relief corps was named Bullpen of the Week by MLB.com. Right-handers Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo have combined to allow three runs with 21 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings and have played a major part in the team’s success. Closer Jeurys Familia is a perfect 7-for-7 in save opportunities and has yet to allow an earned run.

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