This was supposed to be a week in which some of the key Mets like Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto returned from the injured list and McNeil has returned with Conforto’s return expected later today. But this has become a week where pitching injuries have taken center stage putting the Mets in a tough spot as the schedule gets tougher and tougher.
Luis Rojas tried to stay positive saying, “None of this comes easy but we can’t stop and that has been the approach each time. We talk as a staff. We talk with the front office and plans start unfolding just to keep moving forward.” The latest injury came last night when Marcus Stroman was forced to leave the game with left hip soreness further exacerbating the depth of the Met rotation coming after the news that Joey Lucchesi would be getting Tommy John surgery coupled with the injuries in the Met bullpen as Robert Gsellman and Jeurys Familia hit the injured list earlier in the week.
In the short term, the Mets will start pitching prospect Tylor Megill in tonight’s game and then re-assess the rotation versus the Phils after an off day on Thursday with David Peterson, Taijuan Walker, a healthy for now Jacob deGrom remaining the only healthy starters.
Megill has climbed up the Met prospect list as this year he has a 3.06 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 35.1 innings as he has spent time in both AA and AAA for the Mets. It is amazing most of the pitching depth the Mets got in the off-season is injury riddled as Tommy Hunter and Jordan Yammamoto are on the injured list forcing the Mets to bring up Megill much sooner that they would have liked. I would think in the 4 game Phils series we will see David Peterson and a Taijuan Walker in the doubleheader on Friday, deGrom on Saturday and maybe Jared Eickhoff on Sunday. But after that with no days off they play the Nats in DC on Monday followed by a 3 game series in Atlanta and a 3 game Subway Series encounter in the Bronx.
What would help Luis Rojas is if the offense could find their missing bats as they have not scored a run in their last 17 innings at a time when their pitching staff needs them to put crooked numbers up on the scoreboard. The addition of Michael Conforto will help and if Brandon Nimmo returns soon that could be huge as well with his ability to get on base.
Of course with the trading deadline about 6 weeks away, that marketplace has yet to evolve but as always pitching will be a premium and will likely be expensive in terms of prospects which the Mets must weigh very carefully. Carlos Carrasco still seems at least 6 weeks away. Mets GM Zack Scott acknowledged that when he said, “I think realistically we’re still in June and it is not even July so we are still looking at a market that the prices tend to be pretty high until you get closer to the deadline. But we are still trying to find solutions both internally and externally.”
Scott compared this situation with the pitchers to what he experienced earlier in the year with all the position players going down when he said, “Obviously it would be great to add a player who could impact the team but there is value in finding players that could stabilize the team as well. We think we have a good club with the players we have and sometimes the stabilizer is the more proven thing to do.”
Right now the Mets must get through this tough stretch of doubleheaders coupled with very few off days trying to keep their 4 game lead in the NL East from diminishing in a significant way. The Nats took 3 of 4 and the Mets must win tonight to prevent the Braves from doing the same thing with a 4 game series with the Phils awaiting them this weekend. And with the injuries to both the rotation and bullpen, the offense has to take charge in these games which could end up being the determining factor in keeping their spot in the NL East penthouse.