The Mets beat the Nationals 5-1 yesterday at Citi Field, and right in the middle of it all was utility infielder T.J. Rivera who went 4-for-4 with a double.
After Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera both went down with injuries, Jose Reyes was tasked with manning shortstop every day. That left Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera with the second base and third base jobs for the time being, and both players have run with it. However, while Flores isn’t really in danger of being sent down to the minors, Rivera is really playing for his spot as he was sent down to Triple-A as recently as the second week of June to make room on the 25-man roster for Steven Matz and Seth Lugo.
Rivera not only wants to stay, but he wants to win with this team. After being a big part of the Mets late run last season, hitting .333 in 33 games, he wants to enjoy more success in New York.
“We’ve just got to keep competing,” Rivera said. “It’s tough to lose the series, but it’s nice to end it on a good note. Hopefully we can keep this thing going.”
After his four-hit performance, Rivera is slashing .289/.338/.421 on the season. There is no question he can hit at this or any level, as he now has a career .297 average in 222 Major League at-bats and a career .324 average in seven minor league seasons across many levels.
In all of his stints with minor league teams before 2017, he hit less than .300 only twice: He hit .290 in 27 games for Kingsport in 2011 and .289 in 125 games for A+ St. Lucie in 2013. Outside those two stints, you will not find a batting average under .300.
Rivera is a consistent contact hitter that continues to show great ability to get on base while being able to effectively play multiple positions. It would be a surprise to see him sent down to Triple-A again any time soon as long as he continues to hit as he has. Until Cabrera and/or Walker come back he will likely start every day. Now is his chance to really show what he can do on a nightly basis.