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Maybe Starling Marte needs a short break

Since leaving a game with a neck strain earlier this month, Marte has struggled mightily.

MLB: New York Mets at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Starling Marte looks like he might need a break. Having started his 2023 season very well, hitting .303/.378/.485 with one home run and a 144 wRC+ through his first ten games, he left the Mets’ game on April 9 with a neck strain. He was, as the team put it, day-to-day.

Two days later, Marte was back in the Mets’ lineup. Since that start on April 11, however, Marte has hit just .174/.269/.196 with no home runs and a 43 wRC+. Both stretches are made up of extremely small sample sizes—37 plate appearances before the neck strain and just 52 after—but there sure looks to be a correlation between the injury and the 34-year-old outfielder’s production.

Considering how well Marte hit for the Mets when healthy last year and how much worse the team’s offense looked without him for most of September, it would be ideal for the Mets to get him back to being the productive hitter they know he can be.

Per the SNY broadcast last night, Marte told Mets manager Buck Showalter that he feels like he’s lost his rhythm at the plate. As far as public comments on the matter have gone, nobody’s saying that Marte is still ailing from the relatively minor neck injury. If the team were to give him a stint on the 10-day injured list to give him a little time away from the intensity of major league games, though, it could help significantly in the long run, whether that gives him necessary time to fully heal or a few days off and perhaps a couple of rehab games to get back into his usual form.

At the major league level, things would be less than ideal during any potential IL stint in the meantime. With an everyday outfield of Mark Canha, Brandon Nimmo, and Jeff McNeil, Tommy Pham would likely see more playing time. After his own hot start to the season, he’s now hitting just .205/.294/.364 with two home runs and an 81 wRC+ on the season.

And the Mets don’t have an outfield prospect banging down the door to get called up to the big leagues. None of Brett Baty, Mark Vientos, or Ronny Mauricio have spent much time—if any—in the outfield in their professional careers. The best case scenario in the short term would probably be calling up Danny Mendick, who has a little major league outfield experience, or DJ Stewart to take Marte’s place on the roster. Mendick is on the Mets’ 40-man roster already, but Stewart is not.

But the Mets could get by with that configuration, even if the timing isn’t ideal with a four-game series against the Braves looming. Getting Starling Marte right would be worth it in the long run.