NEW YORK — The end of the final week of the season will be nostalgic and bittersweet for the New York Mets. The beginning will serve to remind the Mets of a past they’d thought was buried, and how far they have to go to catch a familiar foe.
David Wright‘s final homestand as a major leaguer is scheduled to begin Tuesday night, when the Mets activate their former All-Star third baseman prior to the opener of a three-game series against the National League East champion Atlanta Braves at Citi Field.
Both teams were off Monday after earning wins Sunday, when the Braves completed a four-game sweep of the visiting Philadelphia Phillies with a 2-1 victory and the Mets beat the host Washington Nationals, 8-6.
The Mets (73-83) took three of four from the Nationals and have gone 41-35 since July 1 to ensure a respectable finish to a season that spiraled out of control during a 5-21 June. But New York will be looking much further back over the final six-game homestand, when Wright will be on the active roster for the first time since May 2016.
Wright, who was on a Hall of Fame track before his career was derailed by back, neck and shoulder injuries, is expected to be available as a pinch-hitter before making a final start against the Miami Marlins on Saturday night.
“I wouldn’t mind getting him in there and getting him a pinch-hit at-bat when it makes sense in the Braves series,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters Sunday.
While Wright, whose contract runs through 2020, is not expected to officially retire, the 35-year-old said during an emotional press conference Sept. 13 that it’s too painful for him to continue playing baseball.
If this is it for Wright, he will end his career with the Mets in the same position they were when he made his debut in 2004 — chasing the Braves (88-68), who clinched their first NL East title since 2013 with a 5-3 win over the Phillies on Saturday.
The Braves, of course, set an American professional sports record by winning 14 straight division titles from 1991 through 2005. The Mets finished second or third in the NL East seven times from 1995, Atlanta’s first full season in the NL East, through 2005.
The Braves, who lost at least 90 games in each of the previous three seasons, appeared to be at least a year away from contending, but a mix of elite prospects such as Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies and reliable veterans such as NL Most Valuable Player candidates Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis vaulted Atlanta back into the playoffs.
Now the Braves are focused on tuning up for the playoffs while trying to secure the highest seed possible and homefield advantage in the playoffs. Atlanta entered Monday 3 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs for the top spot in the NL and one game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the race for the second seed.
“We’re going to do the best we can to get (a higher seed) within the scope of giving a guy or two a day off next week,” Braves manager Brian Snitker told reporters Sunday.
Syndergaard took the loss in his most recent start last Wednesday, when he allowed three runs over four innings as the Mets fell to the Phillies, 4-0. Toussaint earned the win in his fourth career start last Wednesday after surrendering two runs over 5 1/3 innings in the Braves’ 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Syndergaard is 0-2 with a 4.13 ERA in six career starts against the Braves. Toussaint has never faced the Mets.