The New York Mets double-dipped on Tuesday with a pair of games against the Atlanta Braves. Naturally, the result gave them two more wins.
It was a day after the team decided to designate Robinson Cano for assignment. Still fresh on everyone’s mind, the first game of the doubleheader included a spot for outfielder Travis Jankowski at the top of the Mets’ order. While he did play both games (going hitless in the second as the starting right fielder), the story for him was the 2 for 3 with three runs scored in the first half of the tighter 5-4 win as opposed to the 3-0 victory later on.
In an outfield mix that includes two older players plus Brandon Nimmo, Jankowski looks positioned to get regular starts. It doesn’t hurt that he’s hitting well, now 9 for 28 for a .321/.406/.321 batting average.
How will the Mets use outfielder Travis Jankowski moving forward?
Tuesday’s doubleheader was a great hint. If the left-handed swinging outfielder continues to drive hits—even if they’re all singles—he’s going to find ways to give someone a night off or depart early for some relaxation. The Mets have been reluctant to put J.D. Davis or Dominic Smith in left field. When Mark Canha has needed time off, either Jankowski or Jeff McNeil has played the position.
Having moved on from Cano, we may not see McNeil move to the outfield nearly as much. The team could replace him with Luis Guillorme or Eduardo Escobar—the latter of which then requires the Mets to move someone else to third base.
Jankowski has grown into an important role for the Mets. Whether you call him a fourth or fifth outfielder is arbitrary. He’s the next in line behind each of the starters to get some innings. And as long as his bat continues to produce, he’ll get his chance once or twice a week to play a full game.
The other obvious tool Jankowski brings with him is his speed. Pinch running opportunities will be plentiful. Together with Starling Marte and Francisco Lindor, this roster has some good base stealers. Jankowski may not get nearly the number of opportunities as those two everyday players. Nonetheless, when he does find himself on base with one open in front of him, pitchers should be nervous.
The Mets made what even they referred to as a “baseball decision” when they chose to keep a guy like Jankowski over Cano. It was clearly the wiser move to make. Only a day after it happened, they put the decision to good use.