The Mets were dealt a blow when they lost power bat Lucas Duda to a stress fracture in his lower back this season. David Wright's back was described as "a mess" at one point and the captain hasn't played since May 27. To make matters worse, Yoenis Cespedes has now fallen into a slump after missing two games with a sore hip.
Even though, according to ESPN's Adam Rubin, New York manager Terry Collins went to Cespedes between a doubleheader against the Pirates on Tuesday to ask if he could play in the second game; even though Cespedes says his hip is not holding him back; even though he proceeded to end the day going 0-for-7 at the plate and totaling three hits and 13 strikeouts in his last 11 games, Cespedes feels he just has to push through the struggles.
All of the Mets do.
As a lineup, the NL East contenders have sputtered of late, losing seven of their last ten, scoring more than one run in a loss only once in that span, and pushing only two runs across the plate in their last three games. Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto, and Asdrubal Cabrera are all forcing their way through a series of unproductive at-bats. It's a small slumping size, but it's enough for the previously potent offense to feel the heat.
Cespedes does not feel solely responsible.
"If the guys ahead of me and the guys behind me can't get on base, it doesn't really do anything for me to just be on there on my own," Cespedes said. "I'd have to hit home runs every time."
It's likely the Mets hadn't considered the possibility of Cespedes hitting a home run every time he comes to the plate. It's probably smart that they not consider this a central part of their strategy, even though when he's at his best, it feels far more possible.
After logging a hit in seven straight games, the 30-year-old outfielder saw his batting average drop from .309 to .266 over the next 11. But in the grand scheme of things, this is not extremely dramatic. Cespedes' troubles are likely emphasized a bit due to their close proximity to the hip issue, but over a 162-game season, this sort of dip is to be expected. The Mets are doing their best to make due without some key contributors in their lineup, and it will be interesting to see how they react should the healthy players continue to falter for much longer. In the NL East, there is really only one team for them to have to beat, and they don't want to sink much further behind the Nationals the deeper they plunge into the season.
Reporters had found Terry Collins before Tuesday's first game flipping through a binder of hitting data for answers.
"There's a lot of suggestions in there," he had told them. None of them seemed to help. The Mets lost both games of Tuesday's twin bill with the Pirates, dropping to 31-26. Cespedes would later remind people that he is "not Superman," and while he may serve as the pulsating power source of the Mets offense, he is not the only one flailing at the plate right now.
Not that the Mets would ever regret the trade that brought them Cespedes, but the New York Post picked a great time to point out that one of the prospects they swapped for their slugger is tearing it up for the Tigers.