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The Mets finally have some nice roster flexibility

Trades, promotions, and healing of the infirm have given the Mets a number of useful ways to assemble their lineup.

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past three and a half weeks, Terry Collins has been able to send out a legitimate lineup card every game. He has been able to mix and match hitters in and out of the lineup, riding the hot bats and sitting the cold ones. The moves for Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, and Yoenis Cespedes, as well as the promotion of Michael Conforto, have provided Collins with the depth and flexibility that have been lacking from this club for as long as fans can remember.

Yes, the Mets are coming off the losing end of a three-game sweep at the hands of the Pirates, but all signs are pointing up. Team RBI leader Lucas Duda is expected back in the lineup Tuesday evening against the Orioles. His return should give the team an immediate boost in the middle of the order.

When healthy, Duda, Cespedes, and Travis d'Arnaud basically play every day at first base, catcher, and somewhere in the outfield, respectively. Curtis Granderson plays most days in right field, but should receive more than just the occasional day off going forward, especially against lefties (.150 batting average in 100 at-bats).

The biggest issue that remains with this club is their collective inability to hit left-handed pitching—Granderson, Conforto (.200), and Daniel Murphy (.232) are the biggest culprits. But with Michael Cuddyer back from the disabled list and David Wright expected to follow suit next week in Philadelphia, there are ways to overcome this problem.

Murphy has displayed his versatility by not only playing both second and third base, but also sliding in at first base while Duda was dealing with a sore back. The 30-year-old Murphy is sure to find his place in the lineup every time the team faces a righty, but could be benched from time to time against lefties in favor of Wilmer Flores, who otherwise splits time at shortstop with Ruben Tejada. This rotation cannot be considered a platoon, given that both Flores and Tejada are righties, but they will likely continue to split the remaining starts, strongly based on who holds the hotter bat.

Johnson, typically a second baseman, has outfield experience, and could see some starts in left field against righties if Conforto is temporarily sent to Triple-A. Additionally, Cespedes has the arm and range to play anywhere he is needed in the outfield.

Wright's impending return will inevitably take away some aspects of the platoon, as Murphy will likely be limited to second base, with Uribe and Johnson finding near-permanent homes on the bench in the process.

Still, assuming Wright is capable of playing at a relatively high level, this will only improve the depth of this Mets team. Having Wright back in the lineup means fans could see Johnson, Uribe, Tejada, Cuddyer, Lagares, and Recker as bench options in games against righties. That is quite the upgrade from Eric Campbell, Danny Muno, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Darrell Ceciliani, and John Mayberry Jr.

Unfortunately, Wright's return is also bound to send Conforto back down to Las Vegas, but that should only last until rosters expand on September 1.

Once everyone is healthy and on the major league roster, Collins will have a lot to work with.

Against right-handed pitchers, the lineup could be:

Granderson - RF (L)
Murphy - 2B (L)
Cespedes - CF (R)
Duda - 1B (L)
Wright - 3B (R)
d'Arnaud - C (R)
Conforto - LF (L)
Flores - SS (R)

Bench: Johnson (L), Tejada (R), Uribe (R), Lagares (R), Cuddyer (R), Recker (R)

And against left-handed pitchers:

Lagares - CF (R)
d'Arnaud - C (R)
Cespedes - LF (R)
Duda - 1B (L)
Wright - 3B (R)
Cuddyer - RF (R)
Flores - 2B (R)
Tejada - SS (R)

Bench: Murphy (L), Johnson (L), Granderson (L), Conforto (L), Uribe (R), Recker (R)

Collins has pieces to move around, and at least since receiving this influx of talent he has proven capable of constructing productive lineups to win games. Look for the Mets' skipper to keep mixing it up, making sure the hot bats remain in the lineup as the Mets embark on meaningful September games for the first time since 2008, when home games were still played at Shea Stadium.