Mets likely lose Neil Walker for the rest of the season: 4 things to know
Walker needs surgery to fix a bulging disc in his back
The Mets had been holding out hope that the disc issue in Neil Walker's back wasn't too serious, but instead it appears it will end his season. Manager Terry Collins told reporters after their win on Wednesday that Walker will "probably" have surgery to fix the issue (Marc Carig). Doing so would end Walker's 2016 season.
Here are five things to know.
1. This isn't new with the Mets
For the past several years, we've continually seen the Mets downplay injuries only to have them end up serious. From Ike Davis to David Wright to Zack Wheeler to Matt Harvey to Travis d'Arnaud and now Walker. And more. Honestly, those were just off the top of my head. That's how many times we've seen the Mets say something like this ...
Sandy Alderson says the reports of Neil Walker's diagnosis being ultra serious are "overblown." Disc injury in his back. "He can play."— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 31, 2016
... turn into "he's having surgery and is out for months."
Sometimes it plays out over the course of weeks. Sometimes it's more sudden, such as the Walker example on Wednesday.
I'm not here to assign blame. It's just odd how much it keeps happening.
2. Walker can look forward to free agency
Walker's contract is up after this season, so he's soon to be on the open market. He'll turn 31 this September and is coming off back surgery by the time free agency hits. On the plus side, he's been a productive offensive player pretty much throughout his career. He's a .273/.339/.436 hitter with six 24-plus doubles seasons. Oddly, the doubles dropped to nine this season, but he matched a career high with 23 home runs. His .282/.347/.476 line was good for the best OPS of his career as well.
Unless we think a 38-year-old Chase Utley will be of more interest for the 2017 season, Walker is clearly the best available second baseman in free agency. The rest of the names are guys like Sean Rodriguez and Gordon Beckham.
3. The Mets have several options at second
Granted, none are as good as Walker, but Wilmer Flores can handle second base, as can Kelly Johnson. In fact, with Flores swinging right handed and Johnson being a lefty, they could platoon -- though it should be noted Johnson has hit lefties a bit better through most of his career.
Speaking of Flores and Johnson, Flores homered while Johnson came through with the big knock in the Mets' 5-2 win over the Marlins on Wednesday. Flores is slashing .267/.320/.469 while Johnson is at .254/.316/.406.
4. The Mets are red hot
Oh, and speaking of that big win, the Mets have now won nine of their last 11 and have just completed their first winning month (15-14) since going 15-7 in April. They trail the Cardinals by only 1 1/2 games for the second wild-card spot, thanks to the Cardinals' loss in Milwaukee.
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