I have to admit that today was supposed to be a good day. Despite the fact that I’ll be outside all day working on the yard (still better than a day in the office, sitting in an uncomfortable chair while staring at a computer screen) I felt pretty good. I won a bag of Black Dog dark roast coffee for backing the Warriors last night; Anthony Rendon made his season debut on Thursday, and Tanner Roark is scheduled to start on Friday (now the Nationals season officially starts for me and I can begin to love again); and with a rare evening to do whatever I watched Bloodsport, marveling at Jean-Claude Van Damme’s fluffy bangs, which even when fighting against Chong Li in the finale never once moved.
Then, I begin to re-watch the Mets game from last night. I didn’t catch any of it last night. My high stakes coffee bet kept me glued to Game 1 of the NBA Finals (honestly, I didn’t even know when this game was supposed to be played due to the 2-month layoff between the end of the conference finals, but when someone offers you the Warriors at home it’s difficult to turn that down, even for #HarveyDay), so it was immediately sadness as the Mets squander scoring chances in the first and second with two innings of no outs and a man at third, and then the bottom of the third starts with Eric Campbell replacing Daniel Murphy. What? Gary Cohen tells us, “tightness in the left quad.”
There were only two possible reasons for Murphy straining his quadriceps: either he’d hurt it running out a grounder in the top half of the inning or he’d torn it sprinting to second before realizing that Terry Collins had assigned him to third again, and Murphy’s quad exploded when he jump stopped and his cleats caught in the grass. I’m certain it was the first reason, but I’ve decided to believe in the second because it sounds plausible enough that my mind doesn’t immediately reject it, and it confirms the absolute mess the team’s infield situation is currently in due to David Wright being out.
There’s no official word as to the Mets’ plans going forward. Hell, they didn’t really have any plans before Murphy was hurt, living more paycheck to paycheck with however the stars seemingly aligned that day, but it probably means Campbell will remain at third, Wilmer Flores stays at short, and Tejada will play second. With Dilson Herrera beginning his rehab assignment there’s no immediate relief for a Major League capable second baseman to allow Tejada to return to third, and Herrera was batting only .235/.297/.353 in 10 games with the club before fracturing the tip of his right middle finger in fielding drills. With Campbell in the lineup, the Mets once balanced lineup has become increasingly right-handed dominant with the only left-handed batters being Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, and Darrell Ceciliani off of the bench. If Murphy is out at all, the team will likely recall Daniel Muno, which is super because he can at least swing from the left side, but with an OPS+ of -27 in 17 plate appearances his making contact with anything is unlikely.
In truth, the team should just use Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard to pinch hit for whomever the team decides to man Murphy’s spot the third time through the order. I’m okay with that. Sadly, it even sounds logical at this point.
After a rather awful beginning to the season that saw Murphy hitting .198/.258/.346 with two homeruns through April (that includes this dramatic 9th inning homerun against the Marlins), Murphy has turned into an offensive dynamo once he hit May. He hit .330/.378/.417 in May with seven extra-base hits and 12 RBI, and in June he’d already recorded six hits in 14 at-bats, including a long double to left field in his first at-bat in Thursday night’s game. On the season he’d hit well against right-handed pitching as well, going .302/.355/.459 with all four of his homers coming against righties. As a team, the Mets non-pitchers are batting .245/.310/.367 (the batting average good for 23rd out of 30 clubs in the Majors) with the righties hitting .245/.291/.349 with a wRC+ of 90 (24th).
So, yeah, Murphy’s increasingly hot left-handed bat is sort of important.
The good news is the Mets won 6-2, and with the Nationals falling to the Cubs 2-1, the team climbed back into first place in the East. If they can stay there might depend on Murphy’s health and the severity of his injury.