Before the Mets started their series against the Astros on Monday night, Andres Torres was activated off the DL, coming back from his strained calf. Even though most fans weren’t pumped to have him back in the lineup since New York was playing so well without him, I was excited because we got some much needed speed. However, with his presence in the lineup, the Mets have lost three straight games, while only scoring 7 runs during that time. Coincidence? I think not.
It’s not that Torres hasn’t played well in his return; he’s played a solid center field and has registered a hit in each of his three games
back, but it looks as if the flow of the offense has been interrupted by his insertion into the batting order. The main problem is where Torres is hitting in the lineup; I agree with Terry Collins to not put him right back in the lead off spot because not only would that be a lot of pressure with not enough at-bats to be fully prepared, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Ruben Tejada have been doing a spectacular job setting the table. Putting Torres seventh in the batting order does give New York a little depth and speed at the bottom of the lineup, but it has also made it unbalanced.
During the last two games against the Astros, the bottom of the lineup has been nothing but left-handed batters, allowing Brad Mills the opportunity to use his specialty relievers for an entire inning instead of just a batter or two. I was trying to figure out why the Mets went down so easily without fighting back late in the game, and this may have something to do with it. Yesterday, the top of the order was split pretty nicely: Tejada, Murphy, Wright, Hairston, and Nieuwenhuis. However, once Captain Kirk stepped to the plate, it was nothing but left-handers until the lineup turned over (not counting Schwinden): Torres, Davis, and Thole.
Not having Duda in the lineup for the last two games definitely made everything a little haywire and Collins didn’t have Hairston and Turner at his disposal as pinch hitters, but there is no reason that Torres should be hitting sixth. We’re talking about a player with a career slugging percentage of .402 and not a threat in the middle of the lineup. Thankfully, he has come through in the RBI chances he’s had, but someone hitting sixth should be a player still able to drive runs in on a consistent basis, and give protection to those in front of him. To have a better flow throughout there lineup, I’m proposing it look like this every day:
Lucas Duda (when he’s back)
New York is mostly a left-handed hitting team, so it will be impossible to have a right-left-right theme throughout the lineup, but this order will allow the Mets to score more runs. There’s good protection all the way to the bottom; Wright protects Murphy, Duda’s got David’s back, Davis is returning to respectability, Thole has been ripping the cover off the ball, and if Torres gets hot, he can consistently clear the pitcher. As they get into the later innings, Collins must use Hairston and Turner wisely in pinch hitting opportunities to break up this string of left-handed hitters. After a frustrating three games in Houston, there has to be some thought by the coaching staff about how they can get back the offensive rhythm they were in while playing Colorado.
Obviously, the easiest thing to do is to sit Torres and run out the original lineup before he returned, but we all know that won’t happen. At least for right now.