PHILADELPHIA — As soon as Dominic Smith destroyed a neck-high fastball for a two-run homer that helped spur Tuesday’s 8-4 victory over the Phillies, one couldn’t help but think back to the Mets’ curious decision to keep him on the bench the previous night.
Not only was Smith absent from the starting lineup against Phillies lefthander Matt Moore, manager Luis Rojas declined to use him as a pinch hitter for Kevin Pillar with the bases loaded in the fourth inning after righty reliever Brandon Kintzler entered for that particular at-bat.
It was almost as if the Baseball Gods were giving Rojas a second chance to make good on his whiff of sitting the Mets’ offensive MVP of a year ago. The opportunity was teed up for the manager. Stick in Dom, maybe a 2-0 lead turns into a 6-0 developing rout, and the bullpen holds on.
Alas, none of that happened. If a dangerous lefty bat like Smith couldn’t be used in that spot — with Albert Almora Jr. available as a defensive replacement for the later innings — then what was Rojas thinking? Later, after the 5-3 debacle of a loss, Rojas explained it was “too early” in a National League game to be burning through players like that.
Instead, the Mets went down quietly without ever using Smith, which ultimately backfired on Rojas. The guy with the .993 OPS last year never got a swing on Opening Day…