Terry Collins confirmed Wednesday that Ruben Tejada will start at shortstop in Game 1 of the NLDS in sunny Los Angeles on Friday. Collins did not say Tejada will be the main starter throughout the playoffs, but signals being sent suggest it. That would be a huge mistake — Wilmer Flores should be the starter.
The Mets thinking is that each game will be a pitchers duel. And one error at shortstop could cost the Mets a game, maybe even the series. And Tejada is a far better defensive shortstop than Flores.
All of that is true. But here is another argument.
Yes, each game will be a pitchers duel. And with the Mets down a run or tied late in the game with Tejada at the plate, you can be virtually assured that he will not hit a home run to tie the game or give the Mets the lead. Tejada has hit all of 10 home runs in 580 games spanning six seasons of his career.
Wilmer Flores, though, has 23 home runs in 242 games in his young career, including 16 this year in his first full season in the majors. Since the pitching will be so good, any offense you can muster, the better. It’s not just home runs; Flores is simply a far superior offensive player than Tejada.
The Mets have been willing to trade offense for defense the entire year. Why stop now?
And besides, Wilmer Flores still has the baseball gods on his side. He hit that game-winning home run a couple of days after his already legendary on-field crying. What do the gods have in store for him on the national stage? Whatever it is, we will never find out if he is riding the bench.