Lucas Duda has been lost in the NLDS – can the Mets make a change?
Coming into the Division Series, it was clear runs would be hard to come by for either team. And for the most part, that’s been the case.
Short of game three for the Dodgers, the starting pitching has been immaculate or better for both teams. Without Brett Anderson’s poor start in game three for the Dodgers, the starting pitching has produced a 3.07 ERA in the first four games of this series.
Just as it was all expected to be.
But while runs were always expected to be at a premium during this series, the Mets offense has certainly been dwarfed once again by the absence of Lucas Duda’s bat in the middle of the Mets lineup.
Duda went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in game four at Citi Field, and he’s now just 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts in the four games in this series so far.
While it could simply be attributed to a small sample size in a short series against immaculate pitching, it’s also an extension of his season-ending slump which also helped contribute to the Mets season-ending slumber with the bats.
He finished the regular season in an 0-for-10 skid with six strikeouts over his final four games of the regular season.
In total, Duda is just 2-for-his-last-26 with 15 strikeouts in his last eight games.
“There are times when he gets himself in situations where he thinks he’s gotta hit home runs instead of just getting some line drives and getting some base hits, and right now he’s not getting good pitches to hit,” manager Terry Collins said after Tuesday’s loss. “And when he does, he might foul them off.
“The pitch he saw late in the game off of Clayton, he finally got a ball off the plate that he hit pretty good,” the manager explained. “But he’s a piece of our lineup that we desperately need to produce runs for us and right now he’s struggling.”
The question is, with the season now legitimately on the line in Dodger Stadium, will Collins run Duda’s slump out there against Zack Greinke?
The answer is, he probably will.
The alternative is to use either Michael Cuddyer or Kelly Johnson at first base. They cannot shift Daniel Murphy to first because they can’t shift Wilmer Flores to second base thanks to Ruben Tejada being lost for the year in game two.
Cuddyer has been ok against Greinke and at least has a significant sample size to make an argument. He’s 10-for-40 with a home run and seven RBI in his career against the likely Cy Young Award winner.
Johnson, however, is 0-for-9 lifetime against Greinke.
And Duda is better defensively at first base than both Cuddyer and Johnson.
So neither are good enough alternatives in this season-defining situation to warrant a change.
All the Mets can do is hope Duda once again finds his groove and attacks any mistakes he sees in his sequences against Greinke.
But one thing is for certain.
When Duda is hot, he can single-handedly carry this offense day-after-day.
The Mets are asking him to help carry their offense for one more day, at least.