SAN DIEGO — The Mets might have a good problem on their hands following the All-Star break with the return of left-hander Jose Quintana. The rotation the club envisioned when the roster was put together this winter will finally debut, but that leaves the club with the question of what to do with six starters.
Typically, playing time tends to work itself out. Injuries and ineffectiveness often dictate decisions like this, but the Mets currently have five healthy starters and with Quintana scheduled to make his final two rehab starts over the next week, he could make his 2023 debut as soon as July 18, when the Mets host the Chicago White Sox. However, that’s assuming that Quintana takes the place of David Peterson in the rotation. The Mets will discuss the pitching plans further when they see how Quintana comes through his next two rehab outings, though all indicators are that he will be able to join the rotation following the break.
Peterson has pitched well since his return from Triple-A, and though he’ll make one more start before the All-Star Break, the Mets won’t hinge their decision on one start against the San Diego Padres. What they could do is use Peterson out of the bullpen, something they did last season with some success.
Peterson has not been exceptionally pitch-efficient this season, and even with the improvements he made in Triple-A, his walk rate remains high. Last season, Peterson made nine relief appearances and held hitters to a .235 average. He learned to work primarily off of his slider and his fastball and realized he didn’t actually need to use all five pitches. His walk rate was also slightly lower when he worked out of the bullpen, but nine games (14 2/3 innings) is a relatively small sample size.
The Mets could also use right-hander Tylor Megill out of the bullpen, but his results in Triple-A haven’t been great: 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA in two starts.
Quintana will make his final rehab start Saturday with Triple-A Syracuse and he’ll throw a simulated game next Thursday. The veteran lefty was initially slated to start for Syracuse on Friday, but the Mets moved it back by a day to be able to keep left-hander Joey Lucchesi on schedule and to time it better with his simulated game.
As for the rest of the rotation, they’ve made some key adjustments that have allowed them to go deeper into games as of late. Justin Verlander has dropped his arm angle and worked on other pitches since he was informed by the analytics staff that sliders are getting hit at a higher rate league-wide this season. Carlos Carrasco has combatted this with a new slider grip that allows it to play more like a cutter. Max Scherzer is constantly tinkering and Kodai Senga seems to be in a groove.
“That’s how you become a veteran — you make adjustments at this level,” Showalter said Friday at Petco Park ahead of the first game of a three-game series against the Padres. “Things never stay the same. Sometimes the game changes a little bit… Maybe five outings a year, you go out there with everything working. It’s how you do in those other ones that makes a big difference and I think that’s what guys miss about Justin and Max, and even Carlos. They’ve evolved as pitchers even from where they’ve been three or four years ago.”
Whatever they’re doing, it’s worked: The Mets have a 2.00 ERA over their last five games, all wins.
The Mets are hopeful that they will be able to use third baseman Brett Baty this weekend in San Diego, but he was out of the lineup again Friday night with a sore left hamstring.
Baty woke up Thursday morning feeling a familiar twinge and the Mets are playing it safe with their rookie third baseman.
However, they would rather try to use him off the bench then put him on the injured list with the All-Star break only a few days away.
“We’ve talked about it, but we’d also lose him post-break too if we did that,” Showalter said. “I’m expecting him to be a player here at some point.”
Baty dealt with this same injury last season, telling the Daily News that it was minor soreness that lasted only a few days. He hasn’t been totally out of commission in Arizona and San Diego, having been able to do some light workouts and take ground balls.
“Feeling good, moving around,” Baty said.
Baty has not undergone any imaging and the Mets don’t anticipate that he will unless the injury gets worse. They’re hoping to be able to have him off the bench if need be this weekend.
“He’s got a pretty good feel for it,” Showalter said. “He’s close.”
FIVE ON IT
David Wright and his family were in attendance Friday night. Wright was on the field posing for photos with fans and signing autographs. the former Mets captain will make his long-awaited Citi Field return later this summer when he hosts the annual NYPD vs. NYFD charity game.
Source: Berkshire mont