Once hovering around .500, the New York Mets have gone into a spiral in June, winning only three times in their last ten games. The offense is sputtering and in need of a spark. When he returns from the disabled list, Juan Lagares could be the man to provide it.
The Mets’ center fielder was hitting .295/.337/.429 before straining his intercostal muscle, an injury that landed him on the DL on June 2. Manager Terry Collins was starting to hit Lagares in the leadoff spot, and lacking a better option, he did pretty well. Lagares is starting to take live batting practice and should start his rehab assignment soon.
Having Lagares back in the lineup would provide another decent right-handed bat. Currently, David Wright is the only right-handed hitter in the daily lineup with a batting average over .240, but even the Captain is having a rough year. Before going 2-for-4 with a home run in last night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wright was up to his eyeballs in a 3-for-43 slump. The return of Lagares would have another positive impact. It would allow the Mets to keep Chris Young on the bench.
When they signed him to a one-year, $7.25 million contract during the offseason, the Mets were hoping Young would return to the form he showed in 2011 and 2012 when he had an OPS in the mid-700s and displayed 20-home run power. Instead, Young has a batting line nearly identical to the one he put up last year. He’s at .201/.286/.317, and last year he hit .200/.280/.379. The bottom line is he’s making a lot of outs. And it’s not like he’s had a great year in the field, either. He’s showed limited range in center, which has hurt Mets pitching.
When Lagares comes back, he should provide the kind of range and arm that will give the Mets an advantage over most every other team when it comes to outfield defense. And he’ll give the Mets a bat that is at the very least an improvement over Young.
One player isn’t going to turn the Mets around — they need more contributions from the players they have. But having Lagares back in the lineup would be a step in the right direction.