There are six players for the Mets who have started the four previous NLDS games. As you would expect from a small sample, their stats are all over the place. But five of the six have come up big in at least one game and have something to hang their hat on, regardless of how they’ve hit otherwise.
Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy each have two homers. Travis d’Arnaud had the big Game 3, including a homer. David Wright only has one hit in the series, but it was a two-run single to extend the team’s lead to 3-0 in the seventh inning of Game 1. Curtis Granderson has been the team’s most consistent hitter, leading the team in hits (6), doubles (2) and RBIs (5). And then there’s Lucas Duda.
In the four games so far, Duda has two hits and a walk. Wright may not be hitting but at least he’s still getting on base, thanks to five walks. Not only is Duda not getting on base, he’s not even making contact. In this series where strikeouts have reigned supreme, Duda leads everyone with nine whiffs. There’s no shame in struggling against the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. But in the one game where neither of the Dodgers’ aces pitched, Duda was 1-for-5 with four strikeouts.
Coming into the NLDS, Duda was 3-15 with a homer and two walks in 17 PA against Greinke, with five whiffs. In Game 2, he was 0-for-3 with a K against the guy who will take the mound for the Dodgers in Game 5. That’s not a lot of history in a batter-pitcher matchup but what’s there is not particularly good. Then again it’s not like the list of batters who’ve had great success against Greinke is a lengthy one, either.
The Mets’ offense is built on homers and not making outs, walks if you prefer, and Duda hasn’t done well in either facet this postseason. In the three games against the Dodgers’ big two pitchers, the Mets have scored six runs. Four of those came on solo homers and the other two came after they loaded the bases on walks and Wright delivered a single off a reliever.
During the regular season, Duda led the Mets with 27 HR and he was second on the club with 66 BB. The Mets need that guy to make an appearance here in the NLDS.
The fact that Duda is struggling so much is not a big surprise. In addition to the quality of pitching the Mets have faced in this series, Duda was a very streaky player during the year. He was great in April and May, struggled mightily the next seven weeks, was on another tear for 19 games before ending up on the DL and ended the season 0-for-10.
If Greinke pitches a gem and the Dodgers advance, everyone will point to the controversial play in Game 2 as the defining moment of the series. And while we shouldn’t look to minimize that play, we should also look to see how the team’s big bats did. Right now Duda has nothing to put in his column on the plus side. One clutch hit tonight can change all of that.