Mets fans have been climbing the walls for days now, watching other teams enjoy the start of their 2021 season while the Amazin’s were sidelined because of the Washington Nationals’ COVID-19 crisis.
That ends Monday night, at long last, when the Mets take the field at Citizens Bank Park to face the rival Philadelphia Phillies just after 7 p.m.
Two-time Cy Young Award winning ace Jacob deGrom is scheduled to take the mound against the Phillies’ Matt Moore. DeGrom had been scheduled to open up the season on April 1 in Washington against Nationals ace Max Scherzer, but the game — and the entire weekend series — were wiped out after several members of the DC ballclub tested positive for COVID-19.
There’s still no word on when the Mets and Nationals will make up their lost opening weekend in the nation’s capitol. In recent days, the Mets have been working out at Nationals Park, hoping to stay fresh and ready to go when they head up to Philadelphia for Monday’s opener.
The game will mark the official Mets debut of star shortstop Francisco Lindor, whom the Amazin’s acquired in January in a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland baseball club. Lindor signed last week the biggest contract extension in team history — a 10-year, $341 million contract agreed upon just hours before the April 1 negotiation deadline he had set with the club.
That news gave Mets fans a chance to exhale after weeks of fearing they would have lost Lindor after the season due to free agency. Instead, Lindor figures to be one of the biggest pieces of the club for the next decade.
Meanwhile, there’s no word yet on if the Mets will work out a contract extension with Michael Conforto, their home-grown right field slugger who is entering free agency after the 2021 season.
For now, the Mets’ focus is on finally getting their season underway in Philadelphia with the three-game set that starts Monday night. Manager Luis Rojas reset the rotation last Friday after the Nationals’ series was cancelled.
Following deGrom in the order will be Marcus Stroman, who will take the hill for the Mets on Tuesday night, followed by lefty David Peterson on Wednesday. Taijuan Walker, whom the Mets picked up just as spring training started, will get the honor of pitching the home opener on Thursday at Citi Field.
The April 8 home opener in Flushing will be the first time since 2019 that fans have set foot in the ballpark, as Citi Field and the other major league ballparks were closed to fans throughout the abbreviated season.
Citi Field, like Yankee Stadium did on April 1, will open to just 20% of its total capacity — permitting a little more than 8,000 masked, socially-distanced fans to pass through the ticket gates.
Monday night’s road game against the Phillies starts at 7 p.m., and can be seen on SNY or heard on WCBS-AM radio.