Just a couple of weeks ago, Michael Conforto could do nothing right for the Mets. He left the bat on his shoulder in key RBI situations, and when he did swing the bat, it often resulted in a ground out to second base. The only way Conforto could get on base was by throwing his elbow in the way of incoming pitches.
Conforto’s production was meager at the time, but it was only a matter of time before the Mets’ most valuable offensive player from 2020 got his act together. Last weekend against Washington, Scooter finally hit his first home run of the season in a 7-1 loss. Tonight in Philadelphia, he hit his second and it was slightly more consequential.
That’s right. Ninth inning with Phillies closer Hector Neris on the mound with the Mets looking to end a three-game losing streak. You can’t find a much bigger spot in an early regular season game. Plus, the Mets had blown a 4-0 lead and had not scored since the first inning. They NEEDED this one, and Conforto delivered.
I joke on Twitter about which player is going to cause the Mets to “get going,” but there’s also a hint of seriousness because I really believe that at some point this offense is going to grab some momentum and spark a winning streak. We’ve certainly seen what it looks like when everyone is slumping at the same time, so hopefully the opposite scenario is on the horizon and the Mets can take control of a National League East that is very up for grabs after one month of play.
If Conforto can start making hard contact, maybe Francisco Lindor isn’t far behind. The superstar shortstop has to start hitting at some point to avoid becoming the worst investment in baseball history. He only reached base safely tonight because of a hit by pitch, but his strikeout and walk numbers show a solid approach at the plate. Lindor just has to barrel up some of the pitches he’s seeing and stop pulling everything on the ground.
Jeff McNeil is another guy who has shown a good approach but has also hit into some bad luck. He’s only going to be more important if Brandon Nimmo and J.D. Davis — both of whom left the latest game with injuries — are out for more than just a few days.
You don’t have to look at just the stats to get the feeling that the offense will eventually break out. Even during Friday night’s anemic 2-1 loss, the Mets put together some solid at-bats and had no trouble reaching base. Getting those runners home, though, proved to be another issue. Like last year, New York is hitting much better with the bases empty than with runners on, but it’s not as though that was a huge sample.
Sooner or later, the Mets will get hot with runners in scoring position. Either that, or 2021 might be the most frustrating season of all time.