The lost weekend: Mets season delayed as Nationals’ COVID-19 outbreak forces series postponement

Jacob deGrom Mets
Mets ace Jacob deGrom will open the 2021 season against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night, April 5.
Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Mets fans had been eagerly awaiting the first pitch from Jacob deGrom and the first at-bat of their newly-signed star shortstop Francisco Lindor entering Opening Day Thursday against the Washington Nationals — but COVID-19 had other plans.

An outbreak within the Nationals’ organization forced the season opener in Washington to be postponed. The Mets remain virus-free, and worked out in Washington in the hope they’d be able to compete in at least one of the other two scheduled games of the three-game series.

But after three Nationals players tested positive for COVID-19, Major League Baseball announced that the entire series between the Mets and Nationals had been postponed. In a statement, the Nationals indicated the cancellation was due to “continued follow-up testing and contact tracing” within their club.

Instead, the Mets will travel to Philadelphia to officially launch their 2021 campaign with a three-game series against the Phillies, starting Monday, April 5. It will have been a week since their last competitive game, which was on March 29 — their spring training finale against the St. Louis Cardinals that ended in a 3-3 tie.

The Mets also set up their rotation for the coming week, according to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, with deGrom taking the hill Monday night against the Phillies’ Matt Moore. DeGrom had been initially slated to face off with the Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer on April 1.

Marcus Stroman and David Peterson will face the Phillies on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. The Mets will then fly home to Queens for their Citi Field opener on Thursday, April 8, against the Miami Marlins.

The change means that Taijuan Walker, whom the Mets signed just as spring training started to beef up the starting rotation, will be on the mound for the home opener in Flushing.

There’s no word yet on how the Mets and Nationals will makeup their lost opening weekend series later in the season. More than likely, a doubleheader (or two) will be in order — and under MLB rules implemented in 2020, each game of a doubleheader is shortened from 9 to 7 innings.