Juan Lagares Begins the Wave of Reinforcements
The Mets have had a number of players serve as admirable replacements and stop gaps to help lead the Mets charge back to the postseason.
Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have replaced the injured Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz in the Mets rotation, and they have combined to go 6-3 with a 2.64 ERA and a WHIP in nine starts and 10 relief appearances. James Loney had a terrific first half to help cushion the blow of the loss of Lucas Duda. Wilmer Flores and Kelly Johnson have helped to replicate the offensive production of Neil Walker who is done for the season after having season ending back surgery. After Flores went down with a neck injury, T.J. Rivera had the game of his life. When Juan Lagares needed surgery to repair a torn ligament in this thumb and Yoenis Cespedes found himself unable to play center field with his injured quad, Curtis Granderson began playing center field and hitting again. Same goes for Alejandro De Aza. For the very few games Justin Ruggiano played, he mashed left-handed pitching.
However, while each of these players have done a better than expected job, there is no doubt the Mets would be better off with their regulars. Fortunately, the reinforcements are on their way with Lagares being activated off the disabled list.
With the minor league seasons having been over for about a week, Lagares has not had the benefit of being able to face live pitching. That shouldn’t matter much as Lagares’ true value has always been as a center fielder. This season the 2014 Gold Glover has returned to form with a 4.5 UZR and a 7 DRS in 59 games this season. This will allow the Mets to put out their best defensive alignment of Cespedes in left, Lagares in center, and Granderson in right late in games.
This was the alignment the Mets used effectively in the stretch run last season and in their run to the World Series. Speaking of which, Lagares was a tremendous contributor to the Mets postseason run last year. Lagares appeared in 13 postseason games last year playing a Gold Glove caliber center field while hitting .348/.375/.435 with two stolen bases. If Lagares is again able to play and raise his game again, the Mets chances of returning to the World Series will greatly improved.
And as if that wasn’t enough, Duda will be activated later today, and at a minimum, he will be available to pinch hit. On Sunday, deGrom will return to the rotation. He will start to work his way back as he’s limited to 75 pitches. Finally, Matz has been throwing off a mound.
The reinforcements are coming, and with them the Mets chances of winning a World Series has vastly improved.