When the New York Mets hooked up with Kevin Pillar and Jonathan Villar this past offseason, it looked like they would go into the 2021 season armed with a decent bench. Both still had starter potential on a lesser team. At worse, they could probably find a platoon job on a club with .500 aspirations.
Instead, each decided they were a fit for the new-look Mets. Pillar would fit in snuggly as the fourth outfielder and potential defensive replacement while Villar would play all over the infield and help the Mets survive any major injuries.
And that’s exactly what he has done.
The “illar” Brothers have saved the Mets from a potentially disastrous start
The Mets are playing competitive baseball this year even without their best players. When those guys were in the lineup, many were already underperforming. It’s still amazing that a team with as many problems as they have had can sit in the standings where they do.
Pillar has filled in admirably as a regular in the outfield for the Mets. The lengthy absence of Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto has made him an everyday player for the club. Although he dealt with his own injury, by coming back as quickly as he did, Pillar gave the club an extra morale boost.
Something lacking from last year’s ball club was a veteran who has “been around the block.” Pillar has more than been around it. He went a street over and gained even more experience than most of the players you might find on this roster.
Meanwhile, Villar has been a regular for the Mets as much as anyone. Filling in at third base for the injured J.D. Davis, Villar has not put up incredible numbers—nor has Pillar for that matter.
However, as a fill-in option, Villar has more than justified his role with this ball club. He has hit for some surprising power while also giving them a threat on the base paths. While this season may not win him a starting gig with another team in 2022, I do think he has taken more than a few steps in the right direction of where he would like his career to go.
Imagine the Mets over the last two months without Pillar or Villar. We would have seen .230 Triple-A hitters playing regularly. It would have been the end of the Mets before the season ever really got started.
Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about it. This pair of low-key moves designed for depth purposes has worked perfectly. Pillar and Villar haven’t stolen anyone’s job and I’m not about to anoint them franchise legends. The “illar” Brothers have been the buoyancy an injured club needs.
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Helping the Mets stay afloat all year long and for much more than I think anyone expected, I hope the front office remembers this each winter when they look to upgrade the bench. You need veterans like this to get through the worst of times.