When teams make roster moves, whether intended or not, there are clear messages delivered. The New York Mets delivered one to Darin Ruf.
That also means the Mets opted to keep Mark Vientos in the majors.
Vientos is a direct threat to Ruf’s playing time, and he could be a threat to Ruf’s spot on the postseason roster. Essentially, the Mets are going to give Vientos plate appearances to show he’s ready right now to be the right-handed DH option.
That’s what Ruf was supposed to be. However, he’s been failing in that role. So far with the Mets, he has a 9 OPS+.
That’s unplayable. That goes double for a DH. The job is literally only hitting, and Ruf hasn’t been able to do that.
Fortunately for Ruf, he’s still going to get an opportunity to prove himself. With Starling Marte on the IL, he can play right field against left-handed pitching.
On Sunday, both Ruf and Vientos were in the starting lineup against Miami Marlins left-handed starter Jesus Luzardo. While the Mets offense exploded that day, neither Vientos nor Ruf impressed.
Ruf was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He was eventually lifted for Tyler Naquin. Vientos was the DH for the whole game. He was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.
For both players, this was a missed chance; all the more so for Vientos.
There are not going to be many chances to impress as the short side platoon option. For Vientos, he has to clearly do it. He has to leave zero doubt he is the better option at the moment.
Ruf is the veteran, and the Mets gave up a ton to get him. Vientos is battling against track record and front office politics.
However, the opportunity remains. It remains because Vientos remains on the roster. The Mets made sure of that.
With the new CBA, teams are limited to just two September call-ups instead of calling up the entire 40 man roster. This really limits what a team can do.
The New York Mets went the warm body route. Instead of opting for looking at a top prospect and/or seeing who can surprise, they opted for Deven Marrero and Adonis Medina, two players who will not factor into the Mets postseason plans.
That’s all well and good for a team if their postseason roster was set. When looking at the Mets bullpen, it’s difficult to make that case. That goes double when you consider Joely Rodriguez.
On the season, Rodriguez is 0-4 with a 5.03 ERA, 1.525 WHIP, 5.5 BB/9, and a 10.3 K/9. While he was expected to be a left-handed specialist, he’s yielded a higher OPS against left-handed batters.
Those batters are hitting .239/.342/.352 off of him. In total, that’s a .314 wOBA. This is a big reason towards his -0.4 WAR and 78 ERA+.
Taking that all into account, it’s unfathomable the Mets never brought in competition or an insurance policy. They didn’t at the trade deadline, and they didn’t with September call-ups.
With rosters expanding, this was the perfect opportunity to get another look at Nate Fisher.
Fisher was a surprise call-up earlier in the season, and he probably wasn’t expected to pitch. However, with Jose Butto struggling, Fisher was thrown out there.
Fisher shocked us all when he threw three scoreless innings against a pretty good Philadelphia Phillies lineup. His final line was 3.0 IP, H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, K.
It wasn’t always pretty. However, he was not hit hard (12.5% hard hit rate). Mostly, he got the job done, and when you pitch this well, that typically merits another look.
After Fisher was sent down, he continued to pitch well. In two Triple-A appearances, he pitched six innings allowing two earned on four hits and one walk while striking out four.
Yes, it is a lot to ask of Fisher to go from being out of baseball over a year ago to pitching in the postseason. However, the Mets did put themselves in a position where it must be contemplated.
Rodriguez has shown he cannot be trusted. David Peterson has struggled in a relief role. In the end, the Mets still don’t know who can get big outs against left-handed batters in the postseason.
The Mets could’ve signed or traded for a different reliever. They could’ve added a left-handed reliever at the trade deadline. They didn’t leaving then to sort through their internal options.
Not even looking at Fisher again is a massive error by this team. They know they’re not carrying Medina in the postseason. Having him here does nothing to prepare the Mets to win the World Series.
Fisher might’ve done that. Instead, the Mets have now triple-downed on Rodriguez even at a time when he can’t get left-handed batters out in a big spot. It’s time to rectify that and at least give Fisher a look.
The news on Brett Baty was bad. He tore the UCL in his right thumb. He will have it surgically repaired, and for all intents and purposes, he’s done for the season.
It also means the Mets have a roster spot to fill. On that note, they’re an infielder short, but it does appear they’re filling the spot with Deven Marrero. That really doesn’t do much to help this roster right now.
Marrero is your classic Four-A player. In his Major League career, he has a 38 wRC+. That’s actually worse than the Mets catching situation. He’s been solid in the field, but his glove in no way carries his bat.
This is why he started the season with the Long Island Ducks. Picking him up as minor league depth is one thing. Adding him to the roster, and making a 40 man move in the process for a player they don’t need doesn’t make sense.
What the Mets need is Mark Vientos.
In full disclosure, Vientos is not a third base option. He’s been a poor defender there, and that’s why the Mets have looked at him at first and in left. Truth be told, they don’t love him in those spots either.
What Vientos does is hit. More than that, he destroys baseballs.
Through 94 games with Triple-A Syracuse, Vientos has a 136 wRC+. That’s after posting a 159 wRC+ in 12 games for Syracuse last season. A
s a point of reference, Pete Alonso posted a 139 wRC+ in 67 games with Triple-A Las Vegas. Vientos is a full year younger than Alonso was in 2018, and he is in a far less hitter friendly environment.
Another consideration with Vientos is his 136 wRC+ is inclusive of a disastrous first month of the season (Vientos always struggles the first month of the season). In April, Vientos hit .169/.257/.312.
From May 3 to the present, a span of 74 games, Vientos is hitting .310/.382/.582 with 12 doubles, 22 homers, and 63 RBI. Extrapolating that over 162 games, Vientos would be on pace for 26 doubles, 48 homers, and 138 RBI.
The knock on Vientos, even with this level of production, is he strikes out too much. With a 28.5 K%, which is an improvement from last season, there is truth to that.
However, Vientos does not strike out much against left-handed pitching (21.8 K%). On that note, Vientos annihilated left-handed pitching. In 124 plate appearances, he’s batting .343/.411/.759 with six doubles, 13 homers, and 37 RBI.
As an aside, Darin Ruf has struggled with the Mets. In his 15 games with the Mets, he has a 49 wRC+. That includes a 52 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. It’s a small sample size for sure, but it is indicative of the overall struggles the 36 year old has had this year.
At this point, it appears the Mets are just going out of their way to find reasons to keep Vientos in Triple-A. Vientos has proven he can hit, and his bat would fill a need. Moreover, the Mets have again made a 40 man move to call up a Four-A caliber player over him.
Yes, Vientos has his issues. They’re well known and noted. However, this is a player with the potential to be a special bat. He could provide power to a lineup and bench mostly bereft of it.
Vientos is ready to help this Mets team, and he can fill a void. He’s better than the other options the Mets are utilizing. At some point, enough is enough. We’re at that point. It’s time to call up Vientos.