ATLANTA — Travis d’Arnaud hadn’t celebrated like this since Oct. 21, 2015.
On that night at Wrigley Field, the Mets completed a four-game sweep of the Cubs and were headed to a World Series that ended in a disappointing Game 5 loss to the Royals for d’Arnaud and his teammates.
“It feels like forever ago,” d’Arnaud said Saturday after his Braves won the pennant by beating the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, sending the team to the World Series for the first time since 1999. “I am looking forward to going back and end this year with a win.”
The 32-year-old d’Arnaud had a frustrating regular season, playing only 60 games because of a torn ligament in his left thumb. He returned in August, just in time for the Braves to assemble a run toward their fourth straight NL East title.
D’Arnaud’s time with the Mets was largely defined by such stints on the injured list. It led to the team finally releasing him in May 2019. The catcher then bounced from the Dodgers to the Rays and Braves, who signed him to a two-year contract worth $16 million before the 2020 season.
The Mets acquired d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard as the two key pieces of a trade that sent National League Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey to Toronto following the 2012 season. In three of his five full seasons with the club, d’Arnaud appeared in fewer than 100 games. D’Arnaud missed almost all of the 2018 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
“I loved my time in New York,” d’Arnaud said. “I wish I had stayed healthy over there, that is the No. 1 thing I wish I did over there, but everyone’s book of life has their chapters in it and I enjoyed my time there and my time here as well.”
During the regular season, d’Arnaud slashed only .220/.284/.388 with seven homers and 26 RBIs in 229 plate appearances. He’s been equally invisible offensively during the postseason — he is 6-for-31 (.194), but the Braves value his game-calling and presence behind the plate.
“He’s been unbelievable,” reliever Tyler Matzek said. “He struggled through injuries this whole year, he’s been grinding to get back, he’s been waiting to get back and when he got back he settled us all down as a pitching staff: starters, bullpen, everybody. We trust this guy 100 percent and he’s been a freakin’ amazing backstop back there.”
For Mets fans, it will be a second straight World Series that includes a celebrated former member of the team. The Dodgers won last year’s Fall Classic with Justin Turner as the starting third baseman.
D’Arnaud said he still keeps tabs on many of his former Mets teammates, including Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Daniel Murphy and David Wright. He also will serve as a groomsman in Michael Conforto’s upcoming wedding. There are others with whom he keeps in touch.
“Flo I talk to all the time,” d’Arnaud said, referring to Wilmer Flores. “I still throw jabs at him — make fun of him all the time.”
The Braves will be underdogs against the Astros, but it’s a label the team has proudly worn all season. That extended into a postseason in which the Braves entered with 88 victories — the fewest of any team in this year’s playoff field.
“We have been underdogs the whole time,” d’Arnaud said. “I don’t mind it. We like it. We all enjoy it. I think people had us finishing fourth in our division this year too, so we all believe in each other, that is the most important thing, and we’re going to the World Series.”
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