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Mets likely to use lefty first baseman in Wild Card game

Either Lucas Duda or James Loney will probably start against Madison Bumgarner.

New York Mets v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Earlier this season, the Mets seemed to always try to take advantage of lefty-righty matchups. Right-handed hitter Wilmer Flores would only start against lefties and left-handed hitter Michael Conforto would only start against righties. But with a trip to the NLDS on the line, the Mets are apparently reversing course and considering starting either Lucas Duda or James Loney in the Wild Card game against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, according to ESPN.

The Mets’ left-handed options are ideal talent-wise—the only other healthy first basemen on the roster are Eric Campbell and Ty Kelly. However, Madison Bumgarner has been lethal against left-handed hitters throughout his career, and again in 2016. Lefties hit .176/.218/.294 against Bumgarner this year, their lowest marks across the board since 2013.

Both Loney and Duda struggled against lefties this year as well. Loney posted a career-low OPS of .487 against left-handers as well as a career-high strikeout rate, and Duda underwhelmed in limited time after posting great marks against lefties in 2015. Flores probably would get the start if he weren’t dealing with a nagging bone bruise, but the Mets will likely have to bite the bullet as neither Campbell nor Kelly is an appealing option in a win-or-go-home game.

For the season, Loney hit .265/.307/.397 in 366 plate appearances with a -0.3 fWAR, while Duda hit .229/.302/.412 in 172 plate appearances. Since returning from a stress fracture in his back, Duda has only 27 plate appearances, hitting .217/.333/.304.