As he has throughout the season, Mets manager Terry Collins reiterated before Sunday’s matinee against the Cubs that his thinking in creating lineups is to have players on base when, or if, the middle of the lineup begins hitting.
“We’re trying to get some guys on, in case somebody gets hot,” Collins said. “To where there are guys on base.”
Right fielder Marlon Byrd hit cleanup in the series finale. He entered the game second on the team in home runs with 10, one behind Lucas Duda and John Buck. Even though Byrd has a .253 batting average, he has an on-base percentage of .311.
“We look at a lot of things,” Collins said. “No. 1, we look at, we’re looking at on-base [percentage]. That’s why I moved Marlon to where he’s hitting. He’s been driving in some runs for us. He’s been hitting some home runs; his on-base is good.”
The Mets’ .209 team batting average in June is the NL’s worst and ranks 29th out of the 30 MLB franchises. Only the moribound Astros are worse with a .204 average. The Mets entered yesterday’s game tied with the Rangers for the fewest runs scored this month, with 37 each.
“For the most part, each and every day, you think, ‘This is the day we’re going to break out of this,’” Collins said. “It starts with those guys in the middle. That’s where the run production comes.”
The roster juggling is not limited to position players, as Carlos Torres was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas following Saturday’s 5-2 loss. Right-handed reliever Greg Burke was optioned to Las Vegas and reliever Collin McHugh was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster in the corresponding moves.
Torres had a 6-3 record and a 3.89 ERA in 12 starts with Las Vegas.
“Lately he’s been outstanding,” Collins said of Torres, who arrived as the Mets were on the field stretching. “Two complete games and when you do that, pitching in Las Vegas, that says a lot. He’s been pitching very, very well. I talked to [Triple-A manager] Wally [Backman] the other day and he said that [Torres] would be the one guy he would recommend if we needed help.
“We decided to give him a shot.”
Meet the future
The Mets begin an 11-day, 11-game road trip Monday in Atlanta. Dillon Gee (5-6, 4.84 ERA) is the scheduled starter. Matt Harvey (5-1, 2.04 ERA) and Zack Wheeler will start Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader. Wheeler, who will start the second game and is the team's top pitching prospect, is making his major-league debut. He will meet reporters Monday afternoon at Turner Field. Wheeler is a native of Smyrna, Ga.— about 10 miles northwest of Atlanta.
Shaun Marcum (0-8, 5.43 ERA) and Jonathon Niese (3-6, 4.15 ERA) will start the final two games of the series.
Follow Mets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.