By Joe Rini
“Bargain bin” contributors have responded to a slew of injuries in the starting rotation for the New York Mets. Max Scherzer’s 10-day suspension and Carlos Carrasco’s latest injury this week left the Mets with four of their five starting pitchers sidelined. With more than $110 million worth of starting pitching unavailable, the Mets dug deeper into the farm system and the opposite end of the salary spectrum for reinforcements.
First Up, Peterson and Megill
The original bargain bin contributors were David Peterson and Tylor Megill. Peterson beat out Megill to replace the injured Jose Quintana in the rotation at the end of spring training. However, Megill’s planned trip to Syracuse detoured to New York after Justin Verlander’s injury indefinitely postponed his Mets’ debut. So far, Megill has pitched better of the two. Megill’s tidy 3.00 ERA and 3-1 record calls to mind the promise he showed in 2021 and 2022 before injuries derailed his season. However, his long-term durability remains a concern since injuries limited Megill to 56 2/3 innings in 2022.
Given that Peterson started 19 games last season, the left-hander was the logical top candidate to move into the rotation after Quintana’s injury. Unfortunately, his first five starts raise concerns about his continued viability in the rotation. The San Francisco Giants tagged him for seven runs in five innings on Saturday, lowering his record to 1-3 and raising his ERA to an unsightly 7.36. His spot in the rotation could be in jeopardy when Scherzer returns on May 1.
The latest bargain bin contributor for the Mets is the most interesting. 29-year-old left-hander Joey Lucchesi hadn’t thrown a pitch for the Mets since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2021. He’d only won one game after winning 18 games across 2018 and 2019 for the San Diego Padres. However, Scherzer’s suspension expedited his path from Triple-A to the Mets, and he delivered their best-pitched game in 2023. Lucchesi pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out nine as the Mets topped the Giants 7-0 on Friday. If Lucchesi continues on his road from Tommy John surgery, he could be an option in the rotation if Peterson’s struggles continue.
Jose Butto represents another bargain bin contributor for Buck Showalter’s team. Butto pitched five innings of one-run ball in the Mets’ 4-3 victory over the Oakland A’s on April 16. While Butto returned to Syracuse after the game, look for him to return to the rotation in the coming weeks.
Bargain Bin Contributors Will Remain
Supported by a strong bullpen, the bargain bin replacements in the starting staff have helped the Mets to a 14-8 start. Given the injuries to the staff, opening the current West Coast trip with seven wins in nine games is impressive. However, long-term, the Mets need Scherzer and Verlander to quickly return to form when they return in early May. With the return of Quintana and Carrasco less certain, at least two spots in the rotation will be filled by replacements trying to make the most of their opportunity.