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When the Mets were down a majority of their starting lineup last month, they plugged those holes either from within or by acquiring veterans like Cameron Maybin and Billy McKinney at a low cost.
After losing three pitchers to the injured list since Saturday, creating holes in the starting rotation and long relief, the Mets find themselves in a very similar position.
“As we start to get those guys [in the lineup back], all of the sudden we’re having some similar things going on with the pitching,” acting general manager Zack Scott said on Tuesday before the Mets were set to host the Braves at a soggy Citi Field.
For now, the Mets have lost most, if not all, of their starting pitching depth. Manager Luis Rojas said they have yet to decide who will start the series finale against the Braves on Wednesday, mentioning a bullpen game as a possibility.
A second opinion confirmed fifth-starter Joey Lucchesi needs Tommy John surgery, ending his season. Noah Syndergaard isn’t expected back until September following a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Carlos Carrasco is still not throwing off a mound, and has yet to appear in a game this season after tearing his right hamstring during spring training. Jordan Yamamoto is only tossing lightly, and isn’t eligible to come off the 60-day IL until late July due to a shoulder injury.
It leaves the Mets with question marks for the No. 5 spot in their rotation. But what can they do to remedy the issue?
“I think, realistically, we’re still in June. It’s not even July yet, so we’re still looking at a market that, the prices tend to be pretty high until you get closer to that deadline,” Scott said. “I’m on the phone a lot still trying to see what is out there, what’s available to us and figure out what the acquisition costs are for any players. We’re going to keep trying to find solutions both internally and externally.”
Veteran Jerad Eickhoff threw four shutout innings in the second game of Monday’s doubleheader, but Scott wouldn’t fully commit to him. Other options include prospects Thomas Szapucki and Tylor Megill. Szapucki has not pitched well of late, notching a 7.11 June ERA, while MeGill was just recently promoted to Triple-A Syracuse, where he has a 3.77 ERA over 14 ¹/₃ innings. Scott said both could factor into the Mets’ plans. Another possibility is going with an opener every fifth day, although the loss of long man Robert Gsellman (torn lat) doesn’t help if that is the route the Mets choose.
Ultimately, the Mets are likely to add a pitcher through a trade, and it could be a name of consequence at some point. Scott said he believes the Mets can compete for a championship this year, which is their goal, but aren’t interested in mortgaging their future, either.
At the moment, it doesn’t seem the team is ready to make an addition that will excite the fan base. Then again, the Mets were able to survive all the injuries to their position players, and the injuries to their pitching staff aren’t quite as significant.
“Obviously, it would be great to add a player who could impact the team,” Scott said. “But also there’s value in finding players that can stabilize the team as well. We think we’ve got a good club with all the players that we have. Sometimes the stabilizer is the more proven thing to do both short and long term.”
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