NEW YORK – The recent setbacks of Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard have changed the landscape of Mets launches. When the Mets left the field in March, they were hoping both players would join their rotation by June. Now, both remain weeks, if not months, apart.
Therefore, the rotation aid is the area that the Mets are most likely to integrate before the July 30 trade deadline. At present, the Mets have three amazing starting pitchers: Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Taijuan Walker. Two others, David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi, find themselves on more unstable ground due to their performances on the pitch, with no obvious candidates pushing for promotions to the Syracuse Triple-A. As such, CEO Zack Scott acknowledged on Friday that the launch could be a target in the coming weeks.
“If I am projecting out, it will be the most obvious area of need, precisely because of the timing of those two injuries,” said Scott, referring to Carrasco and Syndergaard. “But hopefully some guys will come forward.”
The Mets recently stopped Carrasco’s throwing program because he wasn’t making the kind of strength gains they expected in his rehabilitation from a right hamstring tear. Carrasco received an injection of platelet-rich plasma in his leg earlier this week and won’t start throwing again until next week.
Mets officials remain hopeful that Carrasco can join the rotation from mid to late July. But even after starting to pitch, Carrasco still has to complete a full Spring Training-style progression, which will take about a month. Syndergaard is even further behind due to a bout of inflammation in his right elbow that should keep him still until early August, if not beyond.
“Obviously, this will affect what we’re looking at right now,” Scott said of potential exchanges. “Initial launch depth is always something, I feel like every Deadline in my career, we’ve been looking for it. So this definitely contributes to how we are looking at it. “
If the Mets make a trade for a starting pitcher, however, it is unlikely to happen until much closer to Deadline. Like all teams, the Mets regularly check with rivals for players who may become available. But with so many clubs still competing in early June, Scott joked: “The prices of ‘Buy It Now’ are very high.”
The Mets made an initial pitch on Friday, supporting veteran right-hand Nick Tropeano from the Giants waivers and optioning him at the Syracuse Triple-A. Tropeano will be a candidate to start for the Mets later this month, when they have three doubleheaders scheduled in seven games.
This was the second affirmation of the Tropeano Mets in the past eight months. The team added it to their roster last October, but didn’t offer it in December. Tropeano then signed as a free agent with the Giants, who designated him for the post earlier this week.
The Mets intend to keep Tropeano as relaxed as a starting pitcher, as he was while pitching with the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate Sacramento earlier this year. In three starts for Sacramento, Tropeano compiled an ERA of 2.79 and a score of 1.50 in four notable appearances for the big club. He and Thomas Szapucki are the Mets’ two most realistic short-term rotation replacements because both are already on the 40-man roster.
To free up space for Tropeano, the Mets have moved lead pitcher Tommy Hunter to the 60-day injury list.
Clarity of injuries
Brandon Nimmo recently received welcome news from Ohio-based hand surgeon Dr. Thomas Graham, who diagnosed him with a small ligament tear near the base of his left index finger. Graham and Mets’ doctors had previously feared that Nimmo was dealing with a nerve problem, which can be difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to heal. Instead, a subsequent MRI reading revealed that a small portion of the ligament had actually detached from the finger bone.
“That’s where the swelling came from,” Nimmo said. “This explains it a little more. Still a strange accident. It’s still not normal. It shouldn’t happen yet. But we are confident that this is the one and only time it will happen. “
Graham told Nimmo that the ligament should fully reattach to his bone in time. Nimmo still feels some discomfort on his finger, but will know more once he begins a batting practice progression over the next few days. Hopefully, he should start a rehab assignment mid to late next week.
The utility man returns
Before Friday’s game against the Padres, the Mets activated infielder Luis Guillorme from the IL, a day ahead of schedule. To free up space, they optioned internal colleague Travis Blankenhorn in Syracuse.
Guillorme was in IL since April 30 due to a right oblique strain. Although he was on the bench against southpaw Blake Snell on Friday, he should take over from José Peraza as the Mets’ second main base until Jeff McNeil also returns from IL.
McNeil, who is rehabilitating a strained left hamstring, is expected to begin a Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Sunday. The Mets hope he can return by the following weekend. (Outfielder Michael Conforto, who is also treating a strained right hamstring, is about a week behind McNeil.)
• The Mets have signed New Zealander Elliot Johnstone on a Minor League contract. Johnstone, who pitched two seasons for the Australian Baseball League’s Auckland Tuatara, hopes to become the first New Zealand player in Major League history.
• Former Mets intern Todd Frazier is continuing his professional career close to home. Frazier made his debut on Friday for the Sussex County (NJ) minors of the independent Frontier League. He’s fresh from a stint with Team USA, which he helped qualify for a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.