Within this underwhelming Mets pitching rotation, less might actually be more.
Continued struggles from that unit, coupled with two days off in the next five, at least seem to have team brass considering a four-man rotation for the short term. In such a scenario, disappointing Michael Wacha would likely be thrown into the bullpen for at least one turn.
Before the Mets’ 7-6 win over the Orioles Wednesday at Citi Field, manager Luis Rojas wouldn’t rule out the idea of a four-man rotation as the Mets attempt to resurrect a season on the brink of imploding.
The Mets won’t need a fifth starter until Sept. 19 when they face the Braves.
“Right now we’re with five, [but] we can definitely talk about it, reassess, see if it’s something that is going to change,” Rojas said.
Wacha has been a bust this season, pitching to a 7.50 ERA in six starts after arriving as a free agent on an incentive-laden contract that guaranteed him $3 million for this year. The right-hander’s latest flop occurred on Tuesday when he allowed five runs, four of which were earned, over four innings. In his previous start he lasted only three innings against the Orioles.
Wacha’s removal from the rotation would leave Jacob deGrom, Seth Lugo, David Peterson and Rick Porcello lined up for the next four games. Rojas has already said deGrom will pitch every fifth day, regardless of rotation alignment, so that would put the ace in position to start next Wednesday in Philadelphia. Porcello, who started Wednesday, could open the series in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
It’s a rotation in which Robert Gsellman flopped and was ultimately removed before the right-hander was placed on the injured list with a fractured rib. Another starter, Steven Matz, was yanked from the rotation because of poor results before hitting the injured list with bursitis in his left shoulder. Matz threw two innings in a rehab outing in Brooklyn this week and could be close to returning in some capacity.
It’s just possible Wacha’s spot in the rotation will ultimately serve as his opportunity to start for the team again. Matz has pitched to an 8.63 ERA in six appearances this season, five of which came as a starter.
“The focus first was to see how he responds on the [rehab] outing and see how he’s throwing the ball and how he feels,” Rojas said. “Health is the first goal of his rehab assignment. The way we are going to use him we have not committed yet.”
The Mets didn’t even receive one pitch combined from Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman this season, automatically depleting a rotation that was expected to be a team strength. Syndergaard underwent Tommy John surgery in March and Stroman opted out from the season — after sustaining a torn calf in summer camp — citing COVID-19 concerns.
The lack of options forced Lugo into the rotation — the right-hander is finally built up after three starts since leaving the bullpen — and the rookie Peterson’s emergence has been more a necessity than a luxury. Peterson endured his first rough start of the season Monday, when he surrendered five runs over three innings against the Phillies.