The New York Mets opened their 61st season in Miami against the Marlins and picked up right where they left off in regard to their historically great Opening Day success (41-13 all-time). There were a few notable happenings that occurred in today's victory that I thought would be important to reflect on after today's game.
While there are still 161 games left to react to after today because as we all know a baseball season is more of a marathon than a sprint, there were some takeaways from today's game that I believe will impact the rest of the season.
There were many positive takeaways and one confusing takeaway from the Mets' Opening Day victory
1. Brandon Nimmo was worth every penny this offseason: We all know that Brandon Nimmo was one of the most coveted free agents this winter, and there was a legitimate concern around the Mets fanbase whether he would be able to be retained with more than half of the league showing interest in him. When all of the dust settled Nimmo returned to Flushing on an 8-year $162 million contract this winter and is now going to be a cornerstone piece for almost the next decade and very well end up a Met for life.
Nimmo came up clutch in his first game since the new contract and swatted a two-run go-ahead double in the top of the 7th inning off of Marlins reliever Tanner Scott. With no significant upgrades to the offense this winter, Nimmo will be heavily relied upon to provide an offensive spark for the team, especially with the new expensive contract he signed. So far, so good.
2. There is still pace of play rules we had no idea existed: Like many others this spring I have been trying to understand the new pace of play rules. While my learning curve is nothing compared to the hitters in the box and the pitchers on the mound trying to adjust to the new pace of play, we learned a new rule that favors the pitcher on the mound. It, unfortunately, came at Jeff McNeil's expense.
In the top of the 6th inning, McNeil was confusingly given a strike call after hitting a foul ball because Pete Alonso, who was on first base, had taken too much time getting back to the bag after taking off towards second base on contact. Many were confused by the ruling by the home plate umpire and it seems like a completely unfair rule to the hitter. However, moving forward everyone on the Mets bench was now put on notice to hustle back to the bag after every foul ball.
3. The Mets bullpen survived their first game without Edwin Diaz: Let's be honest, the biggest fear many Mets fans currently share is how the ninth inning is going to play out every single night. Luckily for the Mets, they signed a veteran reliever in David Robertson who has been there and done that, and he took care of the Marlins in order tonight to get his first save as a Met.
Brooks Raley and Drew Smith each combined to throw a scoreless inning a piece to bridge the gap to Robertson in the 9th. The Mets were 89-0 last season when they led after the 8th inning and a large part of that success was due to the dominance of Edwin Diaz in the 9th inning. While we can't expect perfection year in and year out, today was a great start to letting Mets fans exhale a little bit for at least one night.