The lineup, the bench, and the bullpen have all been glaring areas of weakness for the Mets at different times this season, and for good reason. Each of these areas have occasionally—or frequently—underperformed and received warranted scrutiny, but there is one area where the Mets have struggled that sometimes gets overlooked: speed.
The Mets currently have the second-fewest stolen bases of any National League team, and have no players with double-digit stolen bases. Curtis Granderson leads the Mets with just nine steals, Juan Lagares is second with seven, and nobody else has more than five. The Mets don't have an obvious speedster they can deploy as a pinch runner late in games to improve their chances of scoring a tying or winning run.
This is why Triple-A shortstop Wilfredo Tovar, who has also seen time at second and third base in the minors, represents an ideal September call-up option for the Mets. Tovar, who is currently on the seven-day concussion disabled list, is batting .283/.327/.356 this season with three home runs and 42 RBI in 102 games. Most relevantly for the Mets, he leads Triple-A Las Vegas with 30 steals.
Although the Mets do have a crowded middle infield, Tovar would best serve the Mets as a pinch runner and bench option when rosters expand on September 1. The Mets have lacked speed all season, and adding this element to the team's offense could lead to more runs, especially late in games. Even if Tovar's overall offensive profile is lacking, his speed would get him into more than his share of games.
Last season, the Royals called up speedy prospect Terrance Gore late in the season to serve as a pinch runner. He served this role quite well: Despite having just one at-bat in 17 games, Gore stole eight bases and scored seven runs. This added an element of speed to the Royals' bench, which created more offensive chances as part of a successful playoff strategy. Although Tovar is not nearly as fast as Gore, putting him into a similar role makes sense for a team as strapped for speed as the Mets.
If he does get called up, this would not be Tovar's first go-around with the Mets. He played seven games in the majors in 2013 and two in 2014, batting .167/.250/.167 with three hits, one run, and two RBI in 18 at-bats. Tovar has been a September call-up each of the last two seasons, so there's a good chance he could be up again this year if he is healthy.