SAN DIEGO — Lucas Duda contends that to some extent, streakiness resides in the DNA of every big-league hitter, though it’s more prominent in some than in others.
“I think everybody’s kind of streaky,” the Mets’ slugging first baseman said recently. “It just tends to be more lengthened out for particular players, myself included. Not everybody’s going to go 2-for-3, 3-for-4 every day. Everybody’s kind of a streaky player. You take the good with the bad.”
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Depth, however, has helped the Mets ease some of the ups and downs that come with those extreme swings in fortune. With a lineup of dangerous bats from top to bottom, some of the Mets’ streakier hitters have largely been shielded from the type of scrutiny they have faced in the past.
“The strength and length of our lineup is key for us,” Duda said. “I think the caliber of player that we have here, one guy doesn’t necessarily have to carry our lineup. Because of our length — the strength of our lineup — that eases the pressure. It takes the pressure off one through eight.”
The Mets’ most prominent bats seemed to have taken turns carrying a lineup that entered Friday tied for the league lead in homers (42).
“The depth we have right now, the power throughout the lineup, you don’t have to ride one guy,” said manager Terry Collins, who has been able to mix and match in his lineup without missing a beat.
The Mets’ depth thus far has also helped avoid a repeat of last season’s first half, when injuries placed pressure on complementary players who proved overmatched.
“If it was one of the big guys [slumping] and he wasn’t doing it, everybody turned their attention toward someone who wasn’t supposed to be driving in runs,” Collins said. “Now, we’ve got some guys who are spreading us out a little bit.”
When it comes to streakiness, Collins has long held the belief that it’s a trait that rarely changes over time.
“A lot of times, that’s what they are,” the manager said. “They just go through different mechanical things sometimes. These guys are always tinkering with their swings. It’s just the nature of the game. When they get in there and finally something’s clicking, they can get hot. The next thing you know, a little minor thing happens, and they go back to the drawing board again.”
Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes have been prone to streakiness. And Duda has long been one of the Mets’ most volatile performers. While Duda believes that experience can help to level off the extremes in production, he also insists that players ultimately are what they are.
“It’s a mixture of both,” said Duda, who snapped out of a cold streak by homering in three consecutive games earlier this season. “You are who you are, but you can do things to maximize and minimize hot streaks, cold streaks. It’s the kind of player that I am.”
Notes & quotes. With the Padres throwing lefty Drew Pomeranz, Juan Lagares started in centerfield with the suddenly slumping Michael Conforto relegated to the bench. Conforto entered Friday on an 0-for-13 slump . . . Rene Rivera started at catcher as an attempt to help control the running game with Noah Syndergaard on the mound. “We’ll see if he can help out,” Collins said of Rivera. Holding on runners has been an issue for Syndergaard . . . Wilmer Flores started in place of second baseman Neil Walker, who was given the day to rest.