While many National League fans hate the idea of having a designated hitter this season, it likely could have a significant impact on the New York Mets. The best DH’s in the American League have always been those power hitters that don’t have a position. Generally, for the Mets, they don’t have that issue. However, with Yoenis Cespedes potentially returning this season after breaking both ankles last year at his home, he can slide ride into that role.
If the regular season were to have started on time, the Mets were likely not going have Cespedes ready. He had been working out and taking live batting practice though but had not seen live game action. Cespedes also hadn’t shown he could play the field other than catching fly balls during practice in the outfield. He will want to prove he is at full strength, entering the final year of his contract.
The Mets have a crowded outfield already with Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis, Jake Marisnick, and potentially Dominic Smith. The DH will not only allow playing time for them but also strengthen the Mets lineup. Either Jeff McNeil or Nimmo will likely lead off, followed by the big bats the Mets have.
They have the luxury to protect a hitter like Conforto with two big right-handers by his side. Pete Alonso is coming off a 53 home run season. Cespedes has shown the sky is the limit when he is healthy and will almost certainly make pitchers attack Conforto. That also moves everybody else down a slot meaning players like Wilson Ramos, Robinson Cano, and Davis can follow and bring experience to the lower part of the order. They can also use Amed Rosario to bat in the ninth hole as a second leadoff hitter.
Expectations for Yoenis Cespedes
Even with the DH, manager Luis Rojas will likely still play it safe with Cespedes at the start. He will need rest, and the Mets will also like to find at-bats for Smith. For Cespedes, though, if he can hit for power, there is no reason to expect him not to be an impact player. A few seasons ago, after Cespedes was injured, he came back and homered in his first game against the New York Yankees.
With loaded pitching throughout the league, it will also be fun to see how teams pitch him. The strikeouts were always a bit high for Cespedes, and it will be interesting to see if he can lay off some of the breaking balls that have given him trouble in the past.
If the season is to be 82 games, the Mets can hope he can hit around 15 home runs during the season. Cespedes will likely sit once or twice a week but can still be an impact bat off the bench. Teams are like to carry extra position players, and the Mets can use him in that spot as well and then replace him with one of their better fielders.
It seems like the Mets have been knocking on the door for quite some time to breakthrough. They have the pitching to do it as well as the lineup, but they need to see it all come together. Having Yoenis Cespedes apart of the team will be a significant factor as it was back in both 2015 and 2016.
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