For the second time this season, New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares has been placed on the DL; and for the second time this year, the absence of Lagares is bound to cause big problems for the Mets.
Lagares hasn’t been tearing the cover off the ball the way he was early in the season, but he’s still one of the Mets’ most consistent offensive performers. Among everyday players he’s been the Mets’ best offensive player outside of David Wright and Daniel Murphy. The Mets have tried to employ a variety of strategies to inject some life into their lineup, yet they continue to struggle to score runs on a consistent basis and losing Lagares for at least two more weeks isn’t going to help.
Furthermore, the injury to Lagares piles onto the problems in the Mets’ outfield. With Eric Young Jr. already on the DL and Chris Young struggling to the point of losing playing time, the Mets are running out of viable options in the outfield without Lagares available. Curtis Granderson has also started to slump again, and with Bobby Abreu unable to play everyday, the Mets may not be getting any production from the outfield with Lagares out of the lineup.
Lagares has also been hitting leadoff for the Mets with Young Jr. on the DL, and now that both players are hurt, the leadoff spot is once again a huge question mark. Murphy and Ruben Tejada are possible solutions until either Lagares or Young Jr. comes back, but taking Murphy out of his comfort zone or putting Tejada in a high-profile spot in the batting order could spell disaster for a lineup that’s already having a hard time scoring runs.
Defensively the Mets may actually be fine without Lagares, as it only took Matt den Dekker one start to showcase his incredible defensive abilities that make him equal to Lagares in that department. However, if den Dekker doesn’t take advantage of his opportunity to play and produce offensively, he may not be in the lineup every day, which would make the absence of Lagares a lot more noticeable from a defensive standpoint.
The Mets spent two weeks without Lagares earlier in the season and were fine, going 8-4 in 12 games. But the Mets pulled that off with great pitching and little offense, and with Young Jr. on the DL and Young and Granderson struggling, the Mets’ outfield is not set up to handle the absence of Lagares the way they did earlier in the season. This is why seeing Lagares head to the DL for the second time this season could cause big problems for the Mets, especially if he ends up missing a substantial period of time.