When the New York Mets face a left-handed starting pitcher in 2023, Daniel Vogelbach will go to the bench and get prepared to enter the game later on as a pinch-hitter. He’ll get replaced in the lineup with a different DH option. We can expect the Mets to go with some sort of revolving door.
Without including any of the prospects like Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, or Mark Vientos into the mix, there is really only one way the Mets should tackle a game versus left-handed starting pitchers.
1) Brandon Nimmo, CF
2) Startling Marte, RF/DH
3) Francisco Lindor, SS
4) Pete Alonso, 1B/DH
5) Jeff McNeil, 2B
6) Mark Canha, LF/1B/RF/DH
7) Eduardo Escobar, 3B
8) Tommy Pham, DH/LF
9) Tomas Nido
Why this should be the Mets starting lineup versus a left-handed starter
Everybody should get a chance to get off their feet once in a while and keep their bat in the lineup without having to worry about defense. Even Francisco Lindor will get a day or two like this in the regular season. For the most part, there are four players who should DH against lefties, at least to start the year.
Tommy Pham is the obvious one. The fourth outfielder and right-handed option for the ball club off the bench, using him whenever the team faces a lefty pitcher is a necessary action. It’s kind of his role. He’d bat lower in the preferred lineup, eighth in fact, while occasionally starting in left field.
On days when Pete Alonso is the DH, moving Mark Canha to first base is reasonable. Pham can grab a glove and trot out to left field. Canha may also get at-bats as the DH, but that does seem less likely. Starling Marte, on the other hand, may benefit from a few more regular starts as the DH. Moving Canha into right field on those days and asking Pham to give them a full 9 innings in left field is the way to do it.
Defensively, it’s easy. Lining up the bats isn’t so hard either.
We don’t really see much of a change from what the team could look like against a right-handed pitcher. Vogelbach would probably hit fifth or sixth on those days. It would depend on how well he is performing. The fifth spot goes to McNeil on days when they face a lefty. Despite hitting from the left side, the reigning NL batting champion slashed .312/.376/.382 southpaws. He hit only one home run, but that’s not the point of batting McNeil there. A lack of room at the top of the order has him in the middle with a chance to knock in runs or get on base for the hitters behind him.
Canha and Escobar are a toss-up for batting sixth behind McNeil. Escobar batted .259/.299/.519 against lefties last year compared to a .241/.335/.398 performance out of Canha. The only real benefit of having Canha bat before Escobar would be to break up the lefties just in case this becomes something Buck Showalter wishes he had done when first putting the lineup together earlier in the day.
Mets hitters struggled versus left-handed pitchers in 2022. Their .246 batting average was 15th, .322 OBP was 13th, and .394 slugging percentage was 15th. Meanwhile, the team thrived against righties. Their .265 batting average and .336 OBP each ranked second. The slugging percentage of .426 was sixth.
Becoming better than average against left-handed pitchers will be an important step forward for the Amazins. It begins with the starting lineup.