Oh, boy. The inevitable spring training injury has attacked Starling Marte. The expected starting center fielder for the New York Mets on Opening Day and at least throughout the season has been dealing with an oblique injury. His spot in the Mets Opening Day lineup is in jeopardy.
We all figured Marte would be batting near the top of the order for the Mets when games began to count. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like a guarantee.
How long—or even if he will miss time—remains undetermined. If the Mets have to begin the year without him, there’s really only one defensive alignment they can go with for the best team possible. That’s assuming everyone else is healthy.
What will the Mets Opening Day lineup look like without Starling Marte?
Fortunately, the Mets do have a couple of other guys worthy of hitting at the top of the order. And if they have to go to battle against the Washington Nationals without Marte, this is what the lineup could look like:
- Brandon Nimmo, CF
Francisco Lindor, SS
- Pete Alonso, 1B
- Robinson Cano, DH
- Eduardo Escobar, 3B
- Dominic Smith, LF
- Mark Canha, RF
- Jeff McNeil, 2B
- James McCann, C
We can debate forever how to assort this group of nine men. There are a lot of ways to do it to get the best possible lineup on the field and to also make sure not too many lefties are stepping into the plate in a row.
The Mets have a well-balanced lineup with these nine. Francisco Lindor and Eduardo Escobar are swing hitters. Brandon Nimmo, Robinson Cano, Dominic Smith, and Jeff McNeil are the lefties. This leaves Pete Alonso, Mark Canha, and James McCann batting exclusively from the right side.
It will be interesting to see if Buck Showalter does try to mix up the lefties and righties. It’s a strategy that has become more important with the three-batter-minimum rule.
With Marte in the lineup, we could expect him to hit first or second and everyone else essentially move down. There is also some room for players to make huge leaps. McNeil, for instance, has as much potential to hit at the bottom of the order all season long as he does nearer to the top. His performance will dictate where he ends up.
This probably isn’t the lineup I would submit if I was in Showalter’s cleats. I have little faith in Cano but it would seem the Mets do. I’d prefer him hitting a little closer to the bottom.
One thing is clear: whether Marte is here or not, the Mets have a potentially deep lineup. The keyword is potentially. This can just as easily turn into a repeat of last season where on paper things look good and on the field it’s not so great.