Lost in Saturday’s bullpen meltdown against the Braves was an encouraging coming out party for José Reyes.
After starting the 2018 season 0-for-20, drawing the ire of critics and fans alike in the process, Reyes finally had himself a day of quality baseball, going 3-for-4 with a run scored and a stolen base. It’s not only the type of play that fans have been waiting for all season, but it’s what he has to continue to do to stay on the roster.
Reyes is no stranger to starting out slow and turning it around. Last year, he struggled to get going last year, spending the entire month of April batting on the interstate. He closed June with a cumulative batting average of .202 and an OPS of .614. However, Jose started to pick things up in July and ended his second-half campaign with a BA of .294 and an OPS of .853, en route to a 2.0 oWAR.
But this isn't last season, and unfortunately for José, he doesn't have as much rope as he did in 2017. This year’s team is way more talented than last year’s squad, and presumably, it will be more healthy. As we saw with Matt Harvey, no one is going to be allowed to skate by on reputation alone. Jose will need to start improving before July if he wants to stay in Queens.
It’s clear Jose was lost to start this season, as he’s even admitted. He's never thrived as a pinch hitter, and this is really his first experience being a bench player. Perhaps if it hadn’t been for his mentorship of Amed Rosario, as well as the overall equity he’s built up in Queens over his career, a player like Philip Evans or Gavin Cecchini would be taking some reps in his place right now. But if nothing else, Saturday's appearance of vintage Reyes brought us some hope. Quality at-bats leading to getting on base. Swiping a bag to remind us of the havoc he can wreak on the bases. Most importantly, Jose seemed happy and rejuvenated, and there’s nothing more Mets fans can appreciate than a smiling Jose Reyes on the bases.
We know what Jose’s capable of, and hopefully Saturday’s performance will be the catalyst to another productive year from number 7.
Photo credits: Associated Press
Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News