NEW YORK – The Mets’ initial rotation took another blow this week when an MRI scan revealed that Joey Lucchesi has a significant UCL injury to his left elbow. A second opinion confirmed this diagnosis. Lucchesi plans to undergo Tommy John on Thursday, ending his season. Lucchesi will also miss most or all of next season, as the operation typically requires a rehabilitation period of 12-18 months.
The news came during Lucchesi’s best stretch of the season, which included an ERA of 1.19 over the last five starts. After his last outing, in which he delivered 5 innings 1/3 shutout on Friday, Lucchesi complained of pain in his left elbow. Later the Mets put him on the injured list and scheduled him for an MRI. Only on Monday did team officials learn of the ligament injury, an injury that almost always requires Tommy John surgery when significant.
“It’s a tough break for Joey and the club, but he’s got a full tear, so it’s pretty clear he needs TJ,” general manager Zack Scott said Tuesday.
Overall, Lucchesi was 1-4 with an ERA of 4.46 in his first season with the Mets, who acquired him from the Padres in a three-team contract last winter.
“It’s a big loss for us,” manager Luis Rojas said. “A talented guy who I think is getting better every time he comes out.”
Even with a healthy Lucchesi, the Mets were already considering updating their rotation before the July 30 trade deadline, considering they also played the entire season without Noah Syndergaard (recovering from Tommy John surgery) and Carlos Carrasco ( right hamstring rupture). With those two and Jordan Yamamoto (right shoulder pain) all sidelined, dealing with another starter now seems to be almost a certainty. The best starters available might include Rangers’ Kyle Gibson, Rockies’ Jon Gray and Germán Márquez, and Reds’ Luis Castillo.
In the short term, the Mets, who are in the middle of three doubleheaders in seven days, don’t boast many expert internal options. Veteran Jerad Eickhoff made his seasonal debut in Monday’s 1-0 defeat of the Mets in Game 2 of the doubleheader on Monday, while two other starters – Nick Tropeano and No. 10 prospect Thomas Szapucki – are on the 40-man roster. of the organization. The Mets will have to use a combination of those pitchers, also relying heavily on their bullpen, to stay afloat as they approach the trade deadline.
“It’s a challenge once again,” said Rojas. “This is a baseball season. It is full of challenges. You’re mad at the wounds. You have it with the ups and downs of some guys during the season, and you have it in front of the other teams, really good teams that you are playing with. So there are challenges everywhere. We are encountering this right now. “