For most of the year, injuries have kept the Mets from having to make too many tough decisions on how to handle who starts in the outfield. And while currently there is an outfielder on the disabled list, Juan Lagares was clearly lower on the pecking order than the other four players. So, Terry Collins now has to decide whom to sit among his other four guys each and every day. Who should keep Brandon Nimmo company on the bench? Let’s look at how everyone is doing, listing them in alphabetical order:
Jay Bruce – 279 PA, .278/.341/.556
His overall numbers for the year are very strong and Bruce right now is in the middle of a hot streak. He’s batting .407 with a 1.233 OPS in his last 13 games, during which he has 6 HR. It’s hard to imagine putting him on the bench right now, even for just a day. He’s even doing better versus LHP, who were dominating him early in the season. Since May 10, Bruce is batting .273 versus southpaws.
Yoenis Cespedes – 100 PA, .322/.400/.667
There was very little chance that Cespedes wasn’t going to play once he returned from the DL. And if there was the slightest doubt, he quickly put those to bed, batting .458 in the eight games since his return. The plan was to ease him back in, including an off day Sunday in the series finale against Washington. But as hot as he’s been, and as badly as the Mets need a win today, it won’t surprise anyone if Cespedes is playing again today.
Michael Conforto – 244 PA, .284/.402/.567
The odd man out to start the year, Conforto absolutely raked once he was given a shot. Through games of May 24, he had a 1.149 OPS. But in his last 20 games, covering 86 PA, Conforto has a .174/.337/.290 line. Strikeouts have been a problem, as he has a 26.7 K% in this stretch. He also has had back problems in this time, as he missed two games and made brief appearances in two others. Conforto is just 1-9 during the Nationals series.
Curtis Granderson – 238 PA, .212/.303/.399
Stop me if you’ve heard this before but Granderson got off to a horrible start this year, with only the injury to Cespedes keeping him in the lineup. Through games of May 2, Granderson had a woeful .386 OPS. But in his last 141 PA, he has a .280/.390/.542 mark with a .318 BABIP. He’s showing great patience at the plate, with a 14.9 BB% and he’s hitting the ball for good power, with a .242 ISO in this stretch.
So far, Granderson has been the one to draw the short stick. He’s had just two starts in the last six games. For what it’s worth, he’s 3-6 with a HR and four runs scored in those two starts.
Most people would classify this as a good problem to have. And most people would do exactly what Collins has done, having Granderson on the bench when the others have been able to go. In a way, Collins is almost in a no-win situation here. If he rides the hot hand in Granderson, he’ll get crucified for sitting Conforto. Shoot, he caught a lot of grief pinch-hitting for him when the other team brought in a lefty. And the pinch-hitter was Cespedes.
Collins has his work cut out for him trying to find at-bats for one of his hottest hitters. It will be interesting to see if Granderson is in the lineup today. As noted earlier, the plan was to rest Cespedes Sunday but smart money would have him starting the game in left field. If Granderson doesn’t start today, Collins will have to figure out a plan to get him more action in the next series against the Dodgers.
It’s too bad the Mets don’t have a string of games coming up in AL parks where they could use the DH. Although if that was the case, it would be hard to argue using anyone in that spot besides Wilmer Flores. Hey, there’s an idea – maybe we can have Granderson take ground balls at third base. Flores is probably the only guy on the team that we can say without a doubt that Granderson has the better arm.