Luis Guillorme was activated off the injured list Monday, and though the Mets were certainly excited about reintroducing his defense and bat to the lineup, the utilityman’s return also bolstered another one of this team’s strengths, Buck Showalter said – and one they’re going to have to lean on down the stretch and into October.
Guillorme, who hasn’t played since Aug. 14 after suffering a left groin strain, will help feed the Mets’ versatility, especially as they attempt to navigate Starling Marte’s broken finger and Darin Ruf’s continued offensive woes. Though Guillorme wasn’t in the starting lineup Monday against the Cubs, his ability to play second, third and shortstop should be key in untethering another of the Mets' Swiss Army knives: Jeff McNeil, who can shift to the outfield but has played only second since Aug. 9.
“We had some guys do a good job in his absence, but there’s a lot of things that he brings,” Showalter said of Guillorme. “One of the things you talk about players when they’re on your club or you’re trying to acquire them is do they make their teammates better? Having Louie here gives us a nice safety net in a lot of places and a lot of things in the game. We’ve missed him.”
Guillorme came into the day slashing .283/.355/.357 in 86 games this year with a total of four outs above average at second, third and shortstop combined (he’s at least one run above average at every position).
It’s unclear when Marte will return, and Showalter said to not necessarily bank on him coming back right after the 10-day minimum, and though the Mets are high on Mark Vientos, it’s unfair to expect the rookie to come in and immediately compensate for an injured All Star. Ruf, who started in right Sunday, came into Monday 1-for-32 in the last 15 games, dating back to Aug. 18.
“Jeff’s ability to play leftfield, rightfield, second base and third base and Luis being able to play all over the diamond and even Mark Canha’s versatility, [Tyler] Naquin’s versatility – that’s one of the things that [general manager] Billy [Eppler] and the front office has been adamant about making sure we keep – the versatility and people being able to move around if there’s a need in a sport that’s very challenging physically,” Showalter said. “It opens up a lot of possibilities. We look at every day about who we’re facing and what some of the matchups might look like not only that day but down the road, and try to keep the right people on the field for the right matchup.”
It also works to stretch the lineup, something that’s become even truer as both their catchers, James McCann and Tomas Nido, are finally heating up a little more at the plate.
Monday, the Mets had Eduardo Escobar (hitting .500 with five homers in his last nine games), Naquin (slashing .244/.306/.500) and McCann (hitting .360 in his last nine) batting seventh, eighth and ninth.
“I look at clubs in the offseason – I look at our seven, eight and nine hitter versus their seven, eight, nine hitters,” Showalter said. “I look at our fourth and fifth starters, so to speak, and our non-closers, set-up relievers. You compare yourself to other clubs in those capacities [and] you get a better feel for where you are. When we’re able to create some things at the bottom of the order, it puts a lot of pressure.”