Collins leaning toward Lagares over Conforto
NEW YORK -- Twenty-four times this postseason, Mets rookie Michael Conforto has stepped to the plate. Only once has he come away with a hit.
It is with that in mind that manager Terry Collins is considering benching Conforto in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX, 8 p.m. ET game time). Now back at Citi Field without a designated hitter, Collins is looking hard at a lineup featuring Juan Lagares in center field and Yoenis Cespedes in left.
"As we sat down and we looked at the lineup, you've got to kind of block out the batting average and take into consideration the quality of at-bats, how they are," Collins said. "They've been pretty good [for Conforto], and that's why we've kept him in there. But we've got to start getting some production somewhere, so we're going to take all those things into consideration."
Conforto actually leads the Mets in average exit velocity by a wide margin this postseason, per Statcast™, with his 97.1 mph figure ranking well ahead of Daniel Murphy's 89.4. That includes a 379-foot flyout in Game 2 that came off Conforto's bat at 101.2 mph, the longest hit of any Met in World Series play -- including Curtis Granderson's Game 1 homer.
"I know he's got one hit, but he's got two or three sacrifice flies, he's hit the ball hard," Collins said. "In Chicago, he hit the ball very hard. And he didn't have anything to show for it."
Still, Collins wants results. And Lagares is batting .368 this postseason, including a Game 1 single to cap a nine-pitch at-bat against Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera. Short of using Michael Cuddyer, who is performing as poorly as Conforto but without the hard-hit balls, Lagares represents the only legitimate option for a team looking to shake up an offense with five runs in two World Series games.
"We've got to swing better," Collins said. "We know we're better offensively. We've got to certainly get it going."