New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda was sent to the 15-day DL on Saturday after an ongoing back injury. Losing their cleanup hitter may seem like a huge blow for the Mets, but optimism still surrounds the ballclub.
On Monday David Wright returned after a long battle with spinal stenosis, an injury that benched him for 115 games. Manager Terry Collins decided to bat Wright in the cleanup spot, this came after all nine of his hits were singles during his rehab stint in Port St. Lucie. The power seemed to be lacking when he was in Florida, but it resurfaced during his first at-bat. Wright swung at the first pitch and sent it to the second deck.
This is one of the many reasons why Collins can remain calm while one of while biggest threats to go deep is sideline with an injury. The Mets slugging a franchise record eight home runs on Monday is more evidence that the Mets lineup will continue to be productive.
The Mets will shift to a platoon at first base while Duda is gone. Daniel Murphy will be a main stay at the position, hitting against right handed pitchers and occasionally in other situations. He has been hot at the plate over the past two weeks and he showed no signs of slowing down. Murphy went 3-for-6 on Monday with a home run in the 6th inning against Justin De Fratus.
Michael Cuddyer will also see time at first base. He will most likely continue to see time in the outfield, like on Monday against the Phillies, but Collins likes to switch up the lineup at times. Cuddyer has found success at the plate since returning from a knee injury. He continued to hit against the Phillies, going 3-for-4 and smacking his ninth home run of the season.
Wright was in the cleanup role on Monday, but it's hard to believe that he will consistently be in that position. Wright has naturally been a three hitter throughout his career, but Yoenis Cespedes has secured that part of the order ever since he came over from the Detroit Tigers. Wright was batting second in the lineup during the first month of the season and could find himself there again.
Daniel Murphy has seen some time as the cleanup hitter and seems comfortable there, but he is seeing the ball well right now and adjusting the order could be a drastic change. Of course, when Juan Uribe plays on Wright's off days, he will be in the four hole. Curtis Granderson is another option to replace Duda in the batting order. Granderson has been a force at the top of the batting card, hitting eight leadoff home runs. But, Lagares has regained confidence in his bat, which could be good news for Granderson and the Mets.
There are plenty of options for the Mets moving forward. With a 5 1/2 game lead over the struggling Washington Nationals there hasn't been a sign of panic. Besides, the Mets offense doesn't seem to be cooling down anytime soon, with or without Duda.