The continuous and unrelenting struggles of Daniel Vogelbach and Darin Ruf have forced the job of starting designated hitter of the New York Mets wide open — and it looks like Mark Vientos has an opportunity to try and snag some consistent playing time for himself.
Vientos, the team’s No. 7 ranked prospect, was given the nod to bat fifth in the Mets’ lineup on Wednesday night for their series finale against the Chicago Cubs in what is his second-ever start in the majors.
After getting a call-up from Triple-A Syracuse where he slashed .280/.358/.519 (.877 OPS) 24 home runs, 72 RBI in 101 games, the 22-year-old went 0-for-5 in his MLB debut against the Miami Marlins on Sunday before getting a pinch-hit opportunity on Tuesday night.
Slow start aside, his offensive side is undeniable and if he can find his groove in the majors, he’ll suddenly find himself a fixture toward the middle of the Mets’ lineup.
“Like a big horse,” Mets manager Buck Showalter responded when asked if he’d be willing to ride a hot hand at DH down the stretch even if it is Vientos’. “I’m anxious to see [what he can do], just for his sake. He has a chance to help us.”
Showalter and the Mets are desperate for consistent production out of the DH spot after two of their trade-deadline acquisitions in Ruf and Vogelbach have faltered in Queens.
Vogelbach has cooled off significantly after a successful introduction to the Mets after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s batting .153 with a .569 OPS since Aug. 12 and hasn’t had an extra-base hit since Aug. 21.
Ruf has encountered even more trouble in New York, going 7-for-51 (.137) with a .375 OPS in 22 games entering Wednesday night’s series finale against Chicago.
Both have been given significant time to stabilize as Showalter has intimated as recently as Tuesday that Vogelbach and Ruf’s “track records” as reverse-split mashers will ensure that they still will be given a chance.
“It’s not, ‘OK, I’ve got to stay true, I’ve got to stay loyal to this guy,'” Showalter said. “But how does it ever get started? That’s why everybody’s searching for track record. If they’re healthy and they’re in good shape, sooner or later, they’ll chase that track record.”