Michael Conforto will start in Game 5, and against lefties in 2016
As expected, Michael Conforto has been absent for most of the action in this Division Series.
The reason, of course, is the Mets continue to limit his exposure against left-handed pitching, instead having Juan Lagares or Michael Cuddyer in the outfield in Conforto’s place.
But as was the case in game two when the Mets faced Zack Greinke, Conforto will return to the Mets lineup in game five, as will everyone else who faced Greinke in game two, manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
Conforto homered off of Greinke in game two, accounting for one of the two runs the likely Cy Young Award winner allowed on Saturday.
But while Collins was toying with the idea of having Conforto start game three against Brett Anderson, he decided to shy away from the idea and go with Lagares instead in center field and Cespedes in left field.
“I think he can hit lefties,” Collins said on Monday about Conforto. “I think he’s going to be an outstanding player, but this is what we’ve been doing since he came here and we said you know what, it gives us our best defense.”
Conforto is no slouch on defense, to his credit. He had nine defensive runs saved (DRS) from when he was called up on July 24 through the end of the regular season to go along with a 7.5 ultimate zone rating (UZR), according to FanGraphs.com, both well above the league average.
Basically, the feeling around the team regarding Conforto and facing left-handed pitching is simply that there’s no reason to fix anything that isn’t broken.
And with the need to strengthen the defense up the middle with the loss of Ruben Tejada, the logic is indeed sound to test Conforto later, especially against lesser left-handlers in less pressurized situations.
That doesn’t mean things won’t change for Conforto in 2016. In fact, Collins said earlier this week his young slugger will face lefties next season.
“Michael Conforto is going to be a very good player, and next year he’s going to be an everyday player,” Collins said.