Carlos Carrasco inching closer to Mets debut with rehab assignment looming

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Mets starters entered the final weekend before the All-Star break with the best ERA (2.97) in baseball. The Amazin’s have used 14 different starting pitchers this season, the most in MLB, to set that mark. And one pitcher, rehabbing with intensity of late, is due to come off the sidelines and join the league’s best rotation in a matter of weeks.

Carlos Carrasco (torn right hamstring) will throw his second live bullpen session on Saturday, which represents his final hurdle before embarking on a rehab assignment. He’ll face batters and throw around 25 pitches in two innings. Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner has so far been impressed with Carrasco’s velocity and pitch mix.

If all goes well on Saturday, Carrasco is expected to go on a rehab assignment as soon as next week, when the major-league club will be off for the Midsummer Classic.

“He takes his craft so seriously,” Hefner said. “It’s incredible how hard he works. It’s been a shame that he’s missed a few months, because he was tracking well, and sometimes that stuff happens.”

Carrasco has sped up his rehab ever since he received a platelet-rich plasma injection one month ago to help strengthen the muscle in his hamstring. Hefner said Carrasco is “moving more deliberately” and is checking all the boxes as he works toward a Mets debut.

The 34-year-old veteran is expected to stretch out across a few rehab outings, then complete his progression with the Mets. Hefner said Carrasco can continue increasing his workload and pitch count while making starts for the club, beginning in late July. In that way, the Mets will receive the help they’ve needed every fourth and fifth day since David Peterson (right oblique strain) and Joey Lucchesi (season-ending Tommy John surgery) went down with injuries.

DOUBLE-DIGIT DOUBLEHEADERS

The Mets will play their 10th doubleheader of the season on Saturday against the Pirates. They are 11-7 in twin bills so far this year, with a notable trend of late. The Mets have split their last five doubleheaders, winning the first game and losing the second every time in that stretch. They’ve swept just two of their nine doubleheaders this season, last posting two wins against the Rockies on May 27.

Since the Mets are 8-1 in the first game of a doubleheader and 3-6 in the second game, manager Luis Rojas was asked if he believes his starters are tired in the nightcaps. The skipper laughed and quickly shot down that suggestion.

“I don’t think the guys turn a switch off or on,” Rojas said. “I think they’re on all the time.”

Perhaps the streak of splitting a doubleheader will finally be snapped on Saturday against the rebuilding Pirates, who entered the series with the fewest runs per game (3.5) in the league, right behind the Mets (3.6), and the worst record (32-54) in the National League.

METS GRAB PITCHING DEPTH

While the Pirates-Mets game was rained out on Thursday, the Amazin’s front office was busy acquiring a pitcher from the visitor’s side. The Mets picked up right-hander Geoff Hartlieb off waivers from the Pirates on Friday. Hartlieb has a career 6.97 ERA in 54 relief appearances for Pittsburgh since 2019. The 27-year-old was actually drafted by the Mets in the 37th round in 2015, but Hartlieb did not sign.

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