Mets outfielder/infielder Jeff McNeil departed the team’s loss to the Braves on Tuesday with an apparent left hamstring injury, per Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News. He’ll undergo an MRI on Wednesday, Tim Healey of Newsday tweets.
McNeil already spent time on the injured list earlier in the season with a hamstring strain, which shelved him for 12 days. The 27-year-old has otherwise enjoyed a dream season, having slashed .332/.400/.529 (148 wRC+) with 15 home runs in 442 plate appearances. Along with serving as one of the majors’ premier hitters, McNeil has been a versatile defender for the Mets. He has appeared in 79 games in the corner outfield, 26 at second base and 16 at third.
The presence of McNeil is an obvious reason the Mets have saved their season over the past several weeks. Despite Tuesday’s defeat, the former bottom feeders find themselves 61-58 and a manageable two games out of a wild-card spot. At least on paper, losing McNeil would damage their chances to rally for a playoff berth. He’d also be the second keystone option to hit the IL recently for the Mets, who are without starter Robinson Cano because of a torn hamstring. However, the club does still have Joe Panik – whom it signed last week – to handle second and Todd Frazier to man third. It’s in less capable hands in the corner outfield, where Dominic Smith and Brandon Nimmo are currently on the IL.
The McNeil-less Mets would likely have to give more outfield playing time to the light-hitting Juan Lagares (who did have a 4-for-4 night Tuesday) as a complement to Michael Conforto and J.D. Davis. New York also has Aaron Altherr at the major league level, but he has endured a nightmarish season, with Dilson Herrera, Rajai Davis and Gregor Blanco among veteran possibilities in the minors. Alternatively, promoting infielder Ruben Tejada could be in the cards, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.