Could Lucas Duda be headed to the bench?
Yes, Lucas Duda hit 27 home runs in 2015. Yes, he finished with a higher OPS in 2015 (.838) than he did in 2014 (.830) and a career-high 33 doubles in 135 games.
But he was about as streaky as any baseball player could be during the 2015 season. 18 of his 27 home runs came in a total of 16 games – he hit six home runs in a seven-game span in May, seven home runs in a six-game span at the end of July and in early August, and five home runs in a three-game span in late September.
In his other 117 games, Duda hit nine home runs total.
And Duda finished his 2015 campaign hitless in his last four games, striking out a total of six times in ten at-bats during that span.
And that skid has extended into the playoffs.
Duda went just 2-for-18 with a whopping 11 strikeouts in the five-game Division Series against the Dodgers, extending his funk to 2-for-28 with 17 strikeouts in his last nine games.
But Sandy Alderson isn’t worried about Duda’s skid in these meaningful playoff games so far.
“We faced Greinke and Kershaw twice each,” Alderson explained. “That’ll put people in a slump. Fortunately somebody like Daniel Murphy rose to the occasion. But I don’t think that we’re overly concerned about it.”
Having said that, Alderson hinted the Mets could sit Duda if this slump continues to progress and he shows no signs of breaking out of it, specifically in game one against LHP Jon Lester on Saturday although Lester hasn’t been dominant against left-handed hitting this season (they hit .247 against him).
“Terry may decide to do something against left-handed pitching, use somebody else at first base,” the General Manager said.
It’s actually conceivable that Duda could sit against Jake Arrieta in game two. The 22-game winner held left-handed hitters to a .159 average in 2015 thanks to his buzzsaw slider in towards the left-handed hitters and his sinker that dives away from the left side.
But one of the reasons Terry Collins hasn’t abandoned hope in Duda is because of the incredible streaks he’s had in 2015 when he’s been impossible to contain. Alderson is holding out hope another one of those streaks will come against lesser pitching in the NLCS.
“It’s one of those things, and you hope that he catches fire, and last night you’re just waiting for him to sit one in the seats, and he has that potential,” Alderson said.
The question is, how long can the Mets be patient for with Duda? Right now, he’s a gargantuan-sized hole in the middle of the Mets lineup who is barely making contact.