Posted on May 23, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Within a week of losing outfielders Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo to the Injured List, the New York Mets have lost two more to the IL. The Mets placed both Robinson Cano and Jeff McNeil on the 10-day IL Thursday. Cano suffered a quad strain in Wednesday’s game while McNeil has been dealing with a sore hamstring. Both players were placed on the IL the same day the Mets learned that Yoenis Cespedes won’t be joining them this year after breaking his ankle in an off-field incident earlier this week.
It’s certainly been an interesting week for Cano, who came under fire for not running out ground balls twice in the last week. It doesn’t help that he’s hitting just .241 with an OPS of .658, well below his career averages. His return to New York has not started out how he or the Mets would have preferred. Nevertheless, he’s the team’s no. 3 hitter and his absence will surely be noticed.
After Cano underwent an MRI, the Mets described the injury as a low-grade quad strain. Cano had a similar injury two years ago with the Mariners and missed less than two weeks of action. But it remains to be seen if the now 36-year-old Cano will be just as quick to recover this time around.
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The loss of McNeil compounds the loss of Cano. Despite spending most of this season in left field, McNeil would have been an ideal candidate to fill in at second base until Cano’s return. He’s also hitting .333 with an OPS of .879, making him one of the team’s most productive hitters. However, the hamstring issue McNeil has described as “pretty minor” hasn’t dissipated, prompting a move to the IL.
“I just woke up this morning, we were hoping it would be much better,” McNeil said Thursday. “The hamstring tightness is still there so we’re just going to play it safe.”
With Conforto, Nimmo, McNeil, and Cano all on the IL, and utility man Jed Lowrie yet to make his season debut because of injury, the Mets will be shuffling both their infield and outfield on a daily basis. In the outfield, Juan Lagares has been joined by veterans Carlos Gomez and Rajai Davis, who the Mets had stashed at triple-A until this week. Third baseman J.D. Davis has also started multiple games in left field this week. Finally, the Mets have claimed Aaron Altherr off waivers amidst their depth issues in the outfield.
At second base, veteran Adeiny Hechavarria, who also started the season at triple-A, could get a bulk of the playing time until Cano or McNeil returns. Luis Guillorme has also been called up to provide infield depth. Both are outstanding defensively but are a combined 6 for 38 at the plate this season, putting an obvious hole in the New York lineup.
Despite all of the injuries and roster turnover, the Mets are fresh off a four-game sweep of the Washington Nationals. Supporting players and newcomers like Lagares, Gomez, Rajai Davis, and J.D. Davis all played key roles in getting those wins. That will surely make the Mets feel better about being able to survive this stretch without so many key players.
“You plug in our depth, which we’re very, very confident with, and they’ve already shown that they go out there and help us out and help us win games,” says Mets manager Mickey Callaway. “So you plug those guys in, and you keep on plugging along.”
Of course, those four wins came on the heels of a five-game losing streak, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the Miami Marlins. There’s also no guarantee the Mets can continue to get contributions from their supporting cast. It’s safe to say the Mets have found some good fortune in recent days. But with no timeline on the return of any of their injured stars, the Mets can only hope that good fortune continues.