After Michael Conforto’s home run against the Nationals on Thursday, the New York Mets might have the secret weapon to help them in their quest for an NL East title.
It was a great day for the New York Mets at Nats Park yesterday as Michael Conforto returned to the lineup earlier than expected from his shoulder injury. In his first game back from injury, not much should’ve been expected from him, but that didn’t stop Conforto from putting his contributions on a statement win against the NL East favorite, the Washington Nationals.
In the fifth inning against Stephen Strasburg in a 2-2 game, the 25-year-old center fielder took a 1-2 97 mile-per-hour fastball the opposite way for a two-run home run to give the Mets a 4-2 lead that they never looked back from:
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) April 5, 2018
Coming into that eventful at-bat, Conforto was 2-for-17 against Strasburg, which included grounding into a double play in the previous at-bat. While his numbers against one of the Nationals’ aces aren’t great (3-for-18, eight strikeouts), he is slowly becoming one of those hitters that the Nats don’t want to see too often.
If you go back to the 2017 season, Conforto is 14-for-40 against Washington (.350) with five home runs and 11 RBI. He has seven home runs in his career against the Nats with five of them coming against Strasburg and Max Scherzer and that is no easy task by any means.
Now, one home run in early April doesn’t necessarily mean that Conforto is all the way back from a serious injury and there will be times where he struggles. With that being said, going the opposite way against a right-handed pitcher shows the power that fans have seen since he made his debut with the Mets back in 2015.
With Conforto back in the mix, that gives the Mets another power threat for a team that is going to hit their fair share of home runs. Yesterday, seven of their eight runs came via the long ball. But, he also did a good job in making the pitcher work and that has value as well.
Out of the players that were in the lineup yesterday for New York, only two hitters saw 20 or more pitches. Those two players were Yoenis Cespedes (28) and Conforto (20). Before the injury, he saw the third most pitches of any player on the Mets last season and he averaged 4.15 pitches per plate appearance.
It is a small sample size, but if Conforto can keep having success against two of the best pitchers in the National League with the long ball, then the Mets won’t be out of many games. Of course, it also helps when you have a pitcher like Jacob deGrom on the mound that can hold a potent offense to two runs over six innings.
Since the Mets are off to a 5-1 start in their first six games, the excitement will start to build around this team and rightfully so. That excitement includes the return of Conforto, who might be the best all-around player on this team at such a young age.
If he hits the way he is hyped up to be and can stay healthy as the leadoff man, this offense has the potential to take another step forward in 2018.