David Wright’s last game was May 15th, exactly one week ago, and since then, the Mets are 3-2. Pretty good considering the team has also been missing Ike Davis for longer. Despite a good showing and a winning record, the Mets offense is struggling mightily and we all have the pitching to thank for keeping the team afloat. Justin Turner’s red-hot past two weeks have been deservedly praised and very newsworthy, but let’s keep in mind Turner is NOT replacing David Wright in this lineup. Ruben Tejada is. Let’s not forget that Turner and Murphy were platooning when Davis went down, and then Turner was the regular second baseman until Wright went down. Enter Tejada.
Since Wright went down, the Mets have scored only ten runs in five games. The three last night that came in a losing effort matched the single-game high in that span. The Mets have also not scored a single run after the 6th inning in Wright’s absence in what have all been close games (except for last night). When Wright was in the lineup he was mashing to a tune of .318/.483/.500 in Late and Close situations. In innings seven to nine, Wright’s OBP was .380. Aside from Turner, who seems to hit everything all the time, Wright was the only hitter getting it done in the late innings. The team average OBP in the late innings, including Wright’s robust .380, is a paltry .297. In the interest of fairness and comparisons, Wright’s batting average after the 6th inning is a mere .205, but it’s still above the team average of .199. Wright’s replacement in the lineup, Tejada, has a slash line of .231/.286/.231, and while I wouldn’t even think of using fourteen plate appearances as a legitimate sample size, his .267/.337/.407 in Buffalo to begin the season is what I’d hope from him as a major leaguer. I’d expect his minor league numbers to exceed that. But hey, he hasn’t made an error yet with the big club, so that’s a start, I guess.
You can get by with those poor offensive numbers if the pitching is excellent, and aside for Capuano’s unlucky meeting with this season’s production of “Murderer’s Row In A Sardine Can”, both the starting pitching and the bullpen have been excellent as of late. But the pitching won’t keep this up. They’re due, as is Turner, for a return to normalcy. And then where will the Mets be? The Mets have a very difficult schedule ahead. The next opponent, the Chicago Cubs, will have the worst record (at just four games under .500) that the Mets will see between now and August 8th, when the Padres come to town. And that Cubs series will be played in Chicago, where the Mets have had trouble winning. If Wright misses more time than expected, the Mets could miss him for the second round of interleague with the top three teams in the very tough AL West, the Yankees and the Tigers, who have two All Star starters in their rotation. After that, they finish up the first half with a west coast swing, another difficult task.
The Mets have a tough road ahead, with our without Wright, but he adds something to this team that just can’t be replaced. And if the Mets expect to have a respectable season, they need him back and healthy in the worst way.