Source: Mets are calling up Mark Vientos. Why now?


NEW YORK — In three of the last five games, New York Mets manager Carlos Mendoza replaced third baseman Brett Baty with a right-handed pinch hitter against a lefty reliever during the late innings. The pattern revealed an issue. For as good as Baty has performed defensively, the Mets just haven’t received enough from him offensively, particularly against lefties from the left-handed batting Baty.

Perhaps if the Mets were receiving steady contributions from several others in their lineup, it would’ve been something they could wait on a bit longer.

But that’s not how it has played out. On Wednesday, Mark Vientos will join the club in Philadelphia, club sources said.

New York’s offense has been inconsistent through 41 games. Over each of their last five games, they’ve been held to four runs or less. On Tuesday at Citi Field, the Mets were shut out for the fourth time, losing 4-0 to the Philadelphia Phillies and Aaron Nola, who pitched all nine innings and didn’t give up a hit until the sixth.

The Mets (19-22), losers of four of their last five, needed the offensive facet of their team to get going. So they decided to do something about it.

The Mets viewed now as an especially good time to recall Vientos, a right-handed batter, because they anticipate seeing a batch of left-handed pitchers — they will face the Phillies’ Ranger Suarez and later this week head to Miami where the Marlins feature four lefties in their rotation.

The way some within the Mets see it, the situation presents a good opportunity for Vientos to get consistent at-bats, and in their eyes, help their offense.

The Mets don’t have to make a corresponding move until Wednesday, but a source said utility infielder Joey Wendle was set to be designated for assignment. The New York Post first reported the Wendle move.

Besides their regular starters, their only other infielder is Wendle, who failed to get a bunt down in extra innings on Monday, went 0-for-2 in a start on Tuesday and hasn’t gotten going defensively or offensively in a utility role in which he is expected to do all the little things right. The Mets could look at parting with their infield depth up the middle as a necessary risk to ignite their offense.

The Mets plan to keep Baty with the club, sources said. And that would create an interesting dynamic with both Vientos and Baty at the same position, third base. From the perspective of some within the club, Baty still provides good defense, and creating competition might bring the best out of both players.

The Mets’ OPS at third base is just .618, better than only five other teams. After going 0-for-3 with a strikeout on Tuesday, Baty is slashing .230/.292/.317. Over the last seven games, he is 1-for-22. Before Tuesday’s loss, Mendoza said he considered giving Baty a day off; from the manager’s view, Baty has been too passive early in counts and then chased too much once he fell behind. Against lefties, Baty has a .476 OPS.

Still, the Mets like his improved defense and energy, and at 24 years old, it’s hard to completely cut the cord on him in the middle of May.

On the other hand, this is about the time when Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns said he starts to put more weight on results. And Baty’s offensive results have not been good.

Vientos may provide some help. Vientos was a late scratch Tuesday at Triple-A Syracuse, where he was batting .285/.376/.500 in 31 games. There are some questions about his defense at third base, and whether he can consistently hit right-handed pitchers, but there are far fewer concerns about his ability to hit lefties. Vientos made a short appearance with the Mets earlier this season, appearing in three games while Starling Marte was on the bereavement list. In one of those games, he hit a walk-off home run. Since the Mets sent him back to Syracuse, Vientos has produced a .743 OPS in eight games.

Over the last couple of years, Vientos, 24, has responded to the Mets sending him back down to Syracuse by continuing to hit. With J.D. Martinez taking everyday at-bats at designated hitter, Vientos’ shot at sticking probably comes down to whether he can hit enough while seeing time over Baty at third base in the stretch ahead. It’s his first legitimate shot of the season.

Pitching change

The Mets also scratched pitcher Joey Lucchesi from his scheduled start at Triple A. That’s because Lucchesi will start Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia, a source said.

Originally, the Mets planned to start Adrian Houser, who was recently demoted from the rotation. But Houser warmed up twice in the Mets’ bullpen on Tuesday so Mendoza said he would not be able to start.

The change in pitching plans traces back to a season-long problem with issuing far too many walks. The Mets’ bullpen on Tuesday was limited, so Houser lingered as a last-resort option. The Mets needed him to get warm because they were on the verge of needing to use him since starter Jose Buttó lasted just five innings. Buttó walked four batters. Reliever Jake Diekman lasted just two-thirds of an inning because he issued three walks. On Tuesday, the Mets gave out eight free passes. They own the majors’ highest walk rate at 11.6 percent.

(Photo of Mark Vientos hitting in Triple A: Jonathan Tenca / Cal Sport Media via Associated Press)

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