Did you rub your eyes and blink twice before again checking that Mets lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Nationals? Was there really no Yoenis Cespedes slotted in left field for this week’s rivalry confrontation?
“It’s twu, it’s twu,” as Madeline Kahn famously uttered in “Blazing Saddles” so many years ago (sorry, caught that clip again on TV over the weekend).
And no, Mets skipper Mickey Callaway didn’t have to bind and gag Cespedes like a Houdini escape trick to keep him off the field for the first time this season after 14 games. But the big slugger sure was reluctant to accept the day of rest.
“He didn’t like it,” Callaway admitted pre-game. “He was like, wait, why? I said, I feel like you need it. I knew that one had to be coming at some point, and after last night, that brutal cold and the seemingly bad weather again today, I thought it was a good day.”
Unless it becomes necessary to drop Ces into the game at some point later tonight, either as a pinch-hitter, or as an extra-inning replacement, he’s an observer not a player for the evening. After playing through a bout of the flu and an early season slump – Cespedes was seven for his last 47 going into Monday – Callaway also believes the extra day will give him a chance to get his swing back on track.
“I think he’s put some good swings on balls. I think for a while there, he was a tad late. His timing was a little off. He had some really good early BP sessions to try and get it right. He’s putting some good swings on it, but his timing is just off. So maybe a day off, he’ll relax, get re-focused, and come back strong.”
Cespedes has been the most productive .190 hitter in baseball. He really is in a slump, and yet, he has been a major reason why the club was 12-2 going into that Monday tilt against the Nationals.
His 12 RBIs lead the club, and is tied for sixth-most in the NL, tied for 13th-most in the majors. He’s batting .400 with runners in scoring position, and has had two game-winning RBIs. He’s tied with Asdrubal Cabrera for the team lead in home runs with three. And he already has two outfield assists. Don’t run on Yo, you know? His 65 outfield assists since 2012 (his first season) lead the majors.
On the ugly side, his 26 strikeouts are tied for the major league lead with Trevor Story of Colorado.
It’s a certainty Cespedes will be back in the lineup on Tuesday night. He has a .282 average (33-117), with seven doubles, six homers, 14 RBIs, and 20 runs scored in 33 games against the Nationals since coming to the Mets in 2015.
So enjoy the night off, Ces. It’s a lonnnnnnng season.