"Show me a better defensive center fielder playing today. You can't." - Gary Cohen, about Juan Lagares
If Juan Lagares isn't the best defensive center fielder in Major League Baseball, he's certainly in the discussion. In his return to the starting lineup today, Lagares added yet another defensive gem to his resumé. He robbed Jayson Werth of a solo home run in the sixth inning, returning the favor to everyone's least favorite NL East right fielder, who robbed Daniel Murphy of a home run on Friday night.
It was a reminder that Lagares is so good defensively that he need not be dominant at the plate to be valuable. However, Lagares has been pretty strong at the plate this season, and he bumped his OPS up to .819 after going 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI today. Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field + .800 OPS = a damn awesome player. Let's enjoy Lagares when his bat is hot, and even when it's not.
Lagares' play today was appreciated by Bartolo Colon, who enjoyed one of his best starts of the season. Colon gave up two runs on five hits in eight innings of work. He struck out five and walked just one, actually lowering his stellar 7.60 K/BB ratio in the process. The two runs he allowed came on a two-run home run by Ian Desmond in the fourth inning. If not for Lagares, Colon would have surrendered two home runs today. The longball has been Colon's Achilles heel this season, unsurprising considering his sub-40% groundball rate. Unless he can limit the home runs, it might be hard for him to replicate his 2012-2013 success.
The Mets led in this game from the first inning onward. Eric Campbell's two-run single off Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez in the opening frame gave the Mets a 2-0 lead. Campbell has certainly made a strong first impression. Lagares immediately followed with an RBI single of his own, extending the Mets' lead to 3-0. He then made the score 5-0 in the third inning, when he took Gonzalez deep to left center field after Campbell singled. Desmond cut the Nats' deficit to three runs when he homered in the fourth inning, but his team would get no closer after that.
Jenrry Mejia earned his first major league save after working a scoreless and relatively stress-free ninth inning. He allowed a leadoff single to Werth but retired the next three batters he faced, two on strikeouts.
The Mets will try to win the series Sunday afternoon at 1:35 pm. The pitching matchup is Zack Wheeler vs Jordan Zimmermann. I'm thinking Juan Lagares will be in the starting lineup.
Three Stars of the Game
First Star: Juan Lagares
Second Star: Bartolo Colon
Third Star: Eric Campbell
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Bartolo Colon +23.2% (as pitcher), Eric Campbell +13.9%
Big losers: Eric Young Jr. -4.7%, Anthony Recker -3.9%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Eric Campbell two-run single in the first inning, +15.1%
Teh sux0rest play: Ian Desmond two-run home run in the fourth inning, -9.1%
Total pitcher WPA: +26.7%
Total batter WPA: +23.3%
GWRBI!: Juan Lagares RBI single in the first inning