Mets’ Eduardo Escobar confident he will regain All-Star form

Eduardo Escobar isn’t going to ask to sit on the Mets bench for a game or two just to clear his head.

But how much longer can the first-place Mets go before telling their struggling third baseman to sit for much longer than a breather? The clock necessitating a lineup change seems to tick louder with every start made by utility infielder Luis Guillorme, who is riding a six-game hitting streak.

“I think me saying, ‘Give me a couple days off’ is essentially giving up,” Escobar said through a translator after Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Astros, “and I need to be out there.”

Escobar is mired in a 4-for-33 slump, heightened by leaving nine runners on base as the Mets suffered a two-game sweep against Houston. Over that same span, dating to June 11, the slap-hitting Guillorme is 12-for-32 with a .781 OPS that towers over Escobar’s .381.

It’s essentially a microcosm of season-long performance as Escobar (.231 in 275 plate appearances) and Guillorme (.333 in 158 plate appearances) brought batting averages separated by more than 100 points into Thursday’s off-day before beginning a series in Miami.

Eduardo Escobar
AP

“I can’t really say why the results haven’t been there,” Escobar said. “I’ve certainly had opportunities to put the team in a good position, and it just didn’t happen. I haven’t had the results yet. It’s my responsibility to figure this out. That’s what I’m planning on doing.”

The question the Mets must answer is whether this is a case of an 11-year veteran who should be trusted to figure out his struggles. The alarming alternative is that it’s the beginning of a steep drop-off just one year after his first All-Star selection.

By the back of the baseball cards, the answer is simple. Escobar’s time-tested 162-game averages include 31 doubles, 20 home runs, 72 runs and 77 RBIs — power that supplements his .255 average. Guillorme’s 227-game career totals (over five seasons) amount to 24 extra-base hits, 53 runs and 29 RBIs.

But the eye test offers a different story to fans who are wondering if it’s time to at least evenly distribute playing time. Mets manager Buck Showalter mentioned considering giving Escobar a mental break.

“I understand the frustrations of the fans,” Escobar said. “I’m a professional baseball player, so I’m trying to do the best I possibly can. One day, I’m going to give them reasons to cheer for me.”

Sooner would be better than later for the Mets, who have yet to find a bat to consistently support Pete Alonso from the No. 5 hole. With Escobar dropped to No. 7, Mark Canha and Guillorme carried the responsibility in the previous two games.

“I wish I could somehow tape everything [Guillorme] says to me when he is in the hole, getting ready to go on deck,” Showalter recently told MLB.com. “His mind is always on baseball, thinking about situations that may be coming up. He may ask me about a play that was in the highlights. He is engaged in baseball.”