Thursday afternoon brought a welcome sight back to the Mets’ lineup: Michael Conforto had Wolverine’d himself back to full-health almost an entire month ahead of schedule, and he immediately made his presence known.
In his third at-bat of the season, Conforto took Nats’ co-ace Stephen Strasburg deep to the opposite field, and in doing so, reminded Mets fans the potential he brings to the team.
Conforto’s presence in the Mets’ lineup is a game changer. With the Mets’ All-Star outfielder back, they have now added even more pop to a starting lineup that could already mash with most other teams in the National League. Conforto’s opposite-field bomb was especially impressive; it’s always a good sign when he is hitting with power to the opposite field, but on this pitch it was really something. Yes, Strasburg left the pitch a little up and on the outer-half of the plate, but that two-seamer had a ton of tail on it, so Conforto’s ability to square it up and drive it was pretty convincing proof that there isn't much rust to shake off.
His return also adds quality bench depth, something the team hasn’t had in years. It’s hard to admit as president of the local chapter of the Brandon Nimmo Should Bat Lead-Off Fan Club, but I will concede that Conforto’s on-base ability (.384 OBP last year) and significant pop (he was on pace for 30+ HR’s before his injury) slots in perfectly in front of Yoenis Cespedes and behind nine-hitter Amed Rosario. It seems the Mets do not intend on moving Jay Bruce to first base any time soon, which pushes Nimmo to the pine. However, having him on the bench alongside Juan Lagares provides Mickey Callaway even more flexibility with offensive and defensive substitutions, something he’s shown an aptitude for early on in the season. The Season of Nimmo will have to be delayed a little while longer, but it’s for the overall benefit of the team ::wipes away a single tear::.
The Mets have been red hot to start the season, so it’s easy for the return of the Mets’ 25-year-old star to not draw as much excitement as perhaps it deserves. But Conforto adds a a dimension to this team that could make the Mets an elite National League squad. And that’s something to get very pumped about.
Not only did it seal the victory, Yoenis Céspedes' monster grand slam taught Mets fans a lesson worth remembering this season: Don't panic over a couple of losses. Not with this team.