Mets outfielder Michael Conforto had arguably been the Mets’ best player through the first two months of the season. When the Mets needed a leadoff hitter, he stepped up and has a .403 OBP in the role. However, once the Mets ripped off the “May” page of the calendar on their refrigerator to reveal “June,” it seems like the fridge is where Conforto stores his bat.
In June, the 24-year-old has slashed .158/.373/.316 with one home run, two doubles, two RBIs, and 13 strikeouts in 38 at-bats. It is remarkable how often he is able to get on base despite his not hitting as his .373 OBP can attest, but the fact remains: He is not hitting.
This series against the Nationals was crunch time for the Mets; a time to really climb the rankings in the National League East. However it seems like the standings are quick sand and New York keeps sinking deeper and deeper. After being limited to pinch-hit duties in the first game of the series (when he struck out in his only at-bat), Conforto went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts in Friday’s game.
The task ahead doesn’t get any easier. He will face Stephen Strasburg (7-2, 3.27 ERA) today, Joe Ross (3-2, 6.39 ERA) tomorrow, lefty Clayton Kershaw (9-2, 2.23 ERA) Monday, Brandon McCarthy (5-3, 3.14 ERA) Tuesday, lefty Rich Hill (3-3, 5.14 ERA) Wednesday, and lefty Alex Wood (7-0, 1.90 ERA) on Thursday. Ideally Conforto will get his bat going against Strasburg today, who has limited him to two hits in 12 at-bats, including a home run and five strikeouts, or against Ross against whom he is 1-for-3.
If he heats up against the Nationals, that’s great for him and for the team. However if he doesn’t, that could spell disaster for him individually as he enters a stretch against very good starting pitching, all tough on left-handed batters. These next two days against the Nationals are all that could stand between him and a prolonged slump, and if that happens, the Mets are really in trouble.