Posted on August 5, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Amidst a surprising hot streak that has brought them back into the playoff race, the New York Mets have lost second baseman Robinson Cano to the Injured List. Cano was placed on the 10-day IL Monday with a strained hamstring. He pulled up lame on Sunday after rounding 1st base on what looked like a double. It’s his third stint on the IL this year because of a leg injury, as his age may be catching up to the 36-year-old Cano.
The Mets have not indicated a timeline for Cano to return. However, he missed roughly three weeks between two back-to-back stints on the IL because of a quad injury in May and June. Three weeks could be the minimum amount of time he misses this time around. Considering his age, the Mets would be wise not to rush him back, potentially keeping Cano out until September.
Overall, Cano has had a disappointing season. He’s hitting .252 with an OPS of .710, far below the numbers the Mets expected when they traded for him over the winter. But Cano has heated up lately. He had a three home run game last month and is 10 for 25 with five extra-base hits in his last six games.
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More importantly, Cano’s recent hot streak has coincided with the Mets getting hot. Since June 23, the Mets are 10-2. New York began Monday one game under .500 and only three games out of a Wild Card spot. With the Mets suddenly in a playoff race and Cano finding himself offensively, the timing of the injury is a significant blow to the Mets.
While Cano is out, the Mets are expected to move Jeff McNeil to second base. McNeil is an infielder by trade but has spent most of the season in the outfield. He should be able to handle second base defensively, but it means that Cano’s spot in the lineup will be filled by an outfielder. Juan Lagares and Aaron Altherr will likely see an increase in playing time. While that will improve New York’s outfield defense, neither Lagares or Altherr has produced much offensively this year.
Of course, the Mets do have other options if they want to keep McNeil in the outfield. Luis Guillorme, who took Cano’s roster spot, is a brilliant defensive player and a good contact hitter. Adeiny Hechavarria could also see more time at second base. The Mets also have Dilson Herrera and Ruben Tejada, two players with major league experience who are having exceptional offensive seasons at triple-A.
Meanwhile, the Mets are still missing two more potential replacements. Jed Lowrie could be a fill-in at second base while Brandon Nimmo could fill the void in the outfield with McNeil staying at second base. However, both are dealing with long-term IL stints and neither appears close to returning.
Despite his poor performance for much of the season, the injury to Cano is still a meaningful loss for the Mets. He was just beginning to find a groove offensively and is still an intimidating presence in the middle of the lineup. Moreover, the Mets would prefer that nothing changes while they’re playing winning baseball. Given Cano’s recent hot streak, the Mets will surely feel his absence. They just can’t let it interfere with their own hot streak.