ST. PETERSBURG — That the Mets indicated they won’t know who their starter is Tuesday against the Braves until they see which relievers are used in the days before is a tad nonsensical.
The club has known it would need to fill Jacob deGrom’s spot in the rotation for a week now. DeGrom left his Mother’s Day start against the Diamondbacks last weekend with right side tightness and was placed on the injured list the following day.
The Mets were initially optimistic deGrom would miss just one start while thanks to the team’s off-days this past week, but they have yet to determine their pitching plan for that outing on Tuesday. Or, at least, the team is staying mum on its plan and keeping that slot as “to be determined” in what it hopes is a competitive advantage against the division-rival Braves.
Manager Luis Rojas mentioned options to start Tuesday, including right-hander Jordan Yamamoto and lefty Thomas Szapucki. If the Mets go the Yamamoto route, he would be pitching on three days of rest, in which case the team could’ve scheduled his minor-league starts better, given the advanced notice on deGrom’s IL stint. It makes more sense to go the Szapucki route, as the southpaw pitched on May 13, and he could start Tuesday on a normal five-day schedule.
A potential bullpen game should be last on their list after the unsuccessful rollout of Joey Lucchesi’s 1.2 innings and four earned runs in Saturday’s loss to the Rays. Still, Rojas also mentioned Lucchesi (9.19 ERA, 15.2 IP) would be plenty rested if the Mets need to use him against the Braves, since he threw only 31 pitches on Saturday.
“We have guys in the bullpen that can go multiple innings and we have starters in our system as well that are on roster that are part of our depth,” Rojas said. “We’re not there yet. We’re keeping it TBD, open. We’ll see how the game goes today and see how the game goes tomorrow and I think that will give us some clarity on which starter we’re going to use or if it’s going to be a bullpen day.”
DeGrom played light catch and received treatment on his right side tightness Sunday. The ace is scheduled to throw off the slope today with a potential bullpen session set up for Tuesday, as long as he continues responding well and improving.
The Mets are still taking deGrom’s progression day-to-day. He is eligible to come off the IL on May 21 against the Marlins, but Rojas has not yet committed to that possibility. Rojas noted the club could give deGrom a minor-league rehab start before he returns to the rotation, which decreases his chances of missing just one big-league start.
“We’ll see. We’ll see how he goes,” Rojas said. “We want the immediate feedback of him throwing a side and how his body feels and how his mechanics feel.
“That will give us an idea of what we want to do with him, just to make sure whether he makes a start with us or whether we want him to make a start somewhere that he can test all of these things before he pitches in a major-league game. There’s different things that we can do not to rush him.”
IN THE TRAINER’S ROOM
Brandon Nimmo (left index finger bone bruise) will return to the team, but will not come off the IL, after his Thursday night rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse. He felt discomfort in his finger again after his last at-bat in Syracuse, and his discussions with a hand specialist led the team to pull him off swinging-related activity for now. Nimmo will continue to receive treatment.
“Until he is 100% pain-free, we’re not going not to have him out there, taking at-bats or playing rehab games,” Rojas said. “He’s going to get further treatment.”
J.D. Davis (left hand sprain) will begin his rehab assignment with Syracuse on Tuesday. The team will have the third baseman face live pitching and check back in with him on any discomfort following those at-bats.