d'Arnaud losing playing time due to slump

Mets start Rivera at catcher for third time in four games Wednesday

d'Arnaud losing playing time due to slump

WASHINGTON -- As the Mets continue to chug toward what is looking more and more like a postseason berth, they are beginning to enjoy production from players -- Curtis Granderson the prime example -- who struggled for most of the regular season.

One conspicuous exception has been Travis d'Arnaud. Mired in a year-long slump, d'Arnaud has all but lost his starting job behind the plate; the Mets used Rene Rivera at catcher Wednesday for the third time in four games, despite it being a day game after a night game. The situation is far less about Rivera than it is about d'Arnaud, who has simply never become dangerous at the plate.

"It's pretty frustrating," manager Terry Collins said. "I try to sit with the hitting guys and talk about it, but we don't have any real answers for you. They tried to look at the swing pretty intently, and there's not a lot of differences in swing path from last year to this year. He's just not driving the ball."

R. Rivera's long two-run single

In eight games this month, d'Arnaud is batting .250 with a .607 OPS, dragging his season slash line down to .253/.309/332. He does not have an extra-base hit since Aug. 26, nor a home run since Aug. 12. He has just four homers and 14 RBIs in 250 plate appearances this season.

Those numbers stand in stark contrast to what d'Arnaud accomplished down the stretch last season, batting .262/.344/.476 with eight home runs in August and September, before parking another three homers into the stands in the postseason.

He hasn't been the same player since.

"This is my, what, 10th year in pro ball? So I've experienced quite a few ups and downs during that time," d'Arnaud said. "Having that experience reminds me that anything can happen. I've just got to keep working, and play all the way to the end, and strive for that ultimate goal to get to the playoffs."

While Collins has given Jay Bruce and other slumping Mets time to work out their issues in the starting lineup, he is no longer affording that luxury to d'Arnaud. Instead, Collins is awarding start after start to Rivera, a veteran backup hitting .269 with a .710 OPS since the All-Star break. Considering Rivera's superior work behind the plate -- he holds a 2.78 catcher's ERA compared to d'Arnaud's 4.21 mark, and has caught 31 percent of basestealers compared to d'Arnaud's 22 percent -- it's clear this new arrangement may be for good.

"We certainly hoped that [d'Arnaud] would have found the stroke, but he just hasn't had it," Collins said. "He hasn't found it. I know he's frustrated by it, and so are we."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.