For years, legitimate depth had been the bane of the New York Mets’ existence, as the always-trending thread of injury problems would derail the club’s season before it could get off the ground.
In yet another sign of the times changing in the Steve Cohen era, however, the Mets have exactly that after making some key acquisitions this offseason in the likes of Kevin Pillar, Jonathan Villar, Albert Almora, and Jose Peraza — all of whom have already made some considerable contributions to the Mets’ effort throughout the early portions of a 2021 season in which the Mets sit in first place in the NL East 31 games in.
The group, which has now been dubbed the ‘bench mob’, have stepped up in a big way of late; most recently in the Mets’ 7-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday afternoon, which was their seventh-straight victory.
Pillar and Peraza had two RBI each while Villar got in on the defensive party to ensure Taijuan Walker had a fortified unit behind him in yet another gem.
“I think initially you get to a point in your career where you feel like you can be an everyday player,” Pillar said. “I can speak for myself, even Villar — we came here because we wanted a chance to win… This was a team that had a lot of excitement around it. Last year I was playing in places that weren’t really competing a lot, just playing for myself… I really wanted an opportunity to come win.”
Pillar has had the opportunity as of late to play every day with Brandon Nimmo nursing a bruised hand on the 10-day injured list. Over his last 10 games in center field, not only has the 32-year-old proved that he’s still a plus defender, but he’s slashing .341/.357/.585 with two home runs and seven RBI.
“It was difficult at first, but I just stayed ready,” Pillar said of making the most of his chance. “You don’t want to see it come through injury, but I knew if given the opportunity, I would prove that I could go out and play every single day.”
When it comes to the other members of the reserve club, Villar has four RBI and Peraza is batting .308 in their last seven games. The two have also seen an uptick in chances with J.D. Davis on the injured list with a left-hand strain — buing into the mindset of the bench mob.
“I think it dated back toward the end of spring training when you kind of see how the roster is shaping up,” Pillar said. “I think for us, it was important to identify ourselves as guys coming off the bench to make a difference. All of us bought into the mentality that we have to stay ready and wait for the opportunity to present itself.”