The New York Mets are standing tall at the top of the National League East as the only team with a record above .500. Not only are the Mets 9.5 games ahead of the reigning World Series Champion Atlanta Braves (at the time of publishing), they have the most wins in the majors with 35.
This week the team decided to make some adjustments to their roster by optioning our MLBbro, Dominic Smith to Triple A Syracuse and bringing in a right handed pitcher, Adonis Medina this week. A move that was discussed by manager Buck Showalter via ESPN.
“We needed a pitcher to try and keep everybody healthy down there,” manager Buck Showalter said. “And Dom was the option we ended up with.”
The demotion is a chance for the team and Dominic to reset and figure out where their future lies. After finishing 13th in the NL MVP voting with slashes of .316/.377/.616 while hitting ten homers and driving in 42 runs in a shortened season, Smith looked like a can’t miss prospect for the future.
He was quietly doing damage in 2021, flirting with a career year, but inconsistency has been his Achilles heel. Since that 60-game explosion in 2020, our MLBbro has struggled at the plate with hitting slashes of .235/.301/.346 with 11 home runs. The biggest issue at the plate is his rhythm as he has three times as many strikeouts as walks in his last 594 plate appearances before being optioned.
This season almost became a parting of the ways for the Mets and our MLBbro. With the new designated hitter option in the National League, the Mets saw it as a possibility to get another big bat in the lineup. On top of his slow development, Smith’s struggles were also attributed to a lack of conditioning that compounded wrist problems and sleep apnea issues.
Dominic talked about his challenges via Sports Illustrated.
“I was a little bit banged up… “The wrist (strain) started in spring training on a check swing. I didn’t want to miss much time, so I just wore a little tape on my wrist and went after it.
“But then because my wrist was hurting, I wound up messing up my labrum due to my one hand follow through on my swing.”
This adjustment has brought our MLBbro to this point where he has bottomed out with a .186 batting average with zero homers this season. The Mets believe that optioning him to Syracuse will get his groove back at the plate and alleviate the frustrations and pressures of not playing every day.
“In the situation that we are in, we have a really good first baseman in Pete Alonso,” Showalter said. “[Smith] is probably feeling like every at-bat, he has to hit four home runs in one at-bat.
“[We want him to] settle in a comfort zone, just remind himself how good [he is]. He’s a confident guy. I see the work he keeps doing, trying to be perfect in every at-bat. It’s hard to do in this game. The pitchers are really good. Just try to settle into some consistent at bats and know what he is going to be out there every day. Just get into a groove where he can be who he is capable of being.”
There is the plan for our MLBbro for now. Dominic gets time to find his consistent stroke to get back to the majors. When he returns, will it be in a Mets uniform? Who knows? Smith’s slump has put him in the rumor mill for quite a while. It was reported that Smith was being dealt to the Padres in exchange for Chris Paddack, Eric Hosmer and Emilio Pagan. Issues with Paddack’s medical report kept Dominic in New York. Paddack eventually got Tommy John surgery.
Smith’s last shining moment was on May 1st when his four hits effectively landed him this final roster spot at DH and ended the Robinson Cano era in the Mets organization. Since then, Dominic has been in a 6-for-46 slump.
The Mets still say they believe in Smith’s potential.
Mets general manager, Billy Eppler said, “It was hard, but I made sure to articulate how good of a player I thought he was and still do,” Eppler said. “It’s a point of adversity. But he’s got our support, and any resource that he can help with, anything he needs from us, he’s got it.”
Look for Dominic Smith to get hot and be ready for the DH role down the stretch for the Mets this postseason. Even if that doesn’t work out, he could be traded to a team for what he truly wants, which is being in the lineup every day.
Time will tell.