Joey Lucchesi brilliant, but could still be on the outside looking in...
Joey Lucchesi allowed no earned runs over seven innings of work on Wednesday night
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾️
The Mets routed the Diamondbacks 7-1 at Citi Field on Wednesday (Box)
Joey Lucchesi went seven innings for the Mets and allowed just one unearned run on five hits
The Mets got two hit nights from Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso and Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos hit a two run home run
Alonso had three RBI thanks in part to a two-run double in the fifth
Three of the Mets seven runs came with two outs on Wednesday
The Mets got two scoreless innings out of their bullpen from Trevor Gott and Drew Smith
The Mets are now 43-18 when they score first, 57-2 when leading after eight innings, 17-14 against the NL West, 46-19 when scoring five or more runs, and 25-30 since the All-Star Game
Injury Updates 🏥
Brett Baty was removed from Wednesday’s game with left groin soreness. He will undergo imaging on Thursday
Starling Marte (groin) went through a full slate of baseball activities recently and could return to the Mets this week
Roster Moves 🗞️
LHP Joey Lucchesi recalled from Triple-A Syracuse
RHP Sam Coonrod optioned from Triple-A Syracuse
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (67-78) vs. Diamondbacks (76-71)
Where: Citi Field - Flushing, New York
Starting pitchers: RHP Kodai Senga (10-7, 3.07 ERA) vs. RHP Merrill Kelly (11-6, 3.16 ERA)
When: 4:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
Another convincing outing from Joey Lucchesi still might leave him on the outside looking in ✍️
With all of the issues the Mets had in their rotation for the first 2/3 of the year, it makes you wonder why the Mets haven’t given Joey Lucchesi a bigger opportunity at the big league level.
After all, they dealt with injuries and underperformance top to bottom in the rotation, and while the Mets were never going to take Max Scherzer, Kodai Senga or Justin Verlander out of the rotation unless they were hurt, the rest of the rotation wasn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard and, at the time anyway, neither Tylor Megill or David Peterson were pitching competitively at this level, either.
So, there was Lucchesi who was in his first season since a recovery year from Tommy John Surgery. He made the first start of spring training for the Mets way back in late February and was sent to Triple-A by March 18, seemingly off the Mets radar for immediate-term rotation depth in 2023.
How shortsighted of a move was that?
Mind you, Lucchesi certainly didn’t light up the scoreboard himself at Triple-A Syracuse with a 4.43 ERA over 89.1 IP. And certainly, between the lack of a consistent track record here, the long layoff due to his recovery from Tommy John Surgery and the Mets remaining patient as they suffered what seemed to be daily challenges for consistency in their starting rotation, the position the Mets held on Lucchesi could seem understandable, at least early on.
But, they ended up being wrong in their assessment not just Lucchesi, but the situation with their entire rotation as a whole. Now, two of those players aren’t even here anymore and another - who grossly underperformed - is gone with a broken finger.
At a minimum, the Mets could’ve sandwiched Lucchesi in for some more spot starts here and there over the first few months of the year, giving Scherzer, Verlander and Senga a blow while they tried to straighten out Carlos Carrasco in the process. They could’ve just made Lucchesi their fifth starter altogether, at least until José Quintana returned from the injured list too.
Instead, they chose what they chose.
Don’t get me wrong - we really don’t know what the outcome would’ve been if they had installed Lucchesi into the rotation from the beginning, especially when Verlander went down on Opening Day.
At any rate, here we are with Lucchesi being recalled from the minor leagues for yet another spot start in the rotation, this time to give Senga some additional rest. His last outing for the Mets came nearly a month ago when he was solid over 5.2 IP against the Cardinals, not allowing a run on only four hits.
One would’ve thought - given the state of the affairs and the baseball calendar - he would’ve stayed in the rotation at that time as well, but alas he didn’t and he was sent back to Syracuse, again.
This time, Lucchesi was tasked as being the spoiler against the Diamondbacks, and spoil them he did over seven fantastic innings, not allowing an earned run in the process.
The interesting part of Lucchesi’s story on Wednesday is he didn’t leverage his signature “churve” a whole lot, instead primarily leveraging his sinker/cutter combination. He didn’t get a lot of swings and misses but the strategy worked beautifully for him for ten groundball outs and only four balls hit in the air on the night.
“I didn’t play all last year,” Lucchesi said after the game. “I had to show [the Mets] that I still had that fight in me, and I believe I have a lot of life left in my body. Hopefully they recognize that and see it, and it works out for me.”
It’s not really clear if Lucchesi will remain in the rotation going forward, either.
If he does, he would be the sixth starter (Senga, Quintana, Buttó, Megill, Peterson are all currently in the rotation), so once again despite a strong performance, Lucchesi seemingly finds himself on the outside looking in.
Perhaps the Mets could go with a sixth starter the rest of the way to not only wind Senga down some more but to also get more looks at Lucchesi. Or, perhaps they can transition Lucchesi into a relief role and give him multiple-inning stints out of the bullpen.
He’d get them from the bullpen, as the Mets continue to show a consistent inability to get more than 15 outs from a starting pitcher.
No matter, as was the case with José Buttó on Tuesday, Lucchesi built has some credibility for himself to be in the mix for a rotation spot going forward. As I said yesterday, the Mets don’t need all of Buttó, Lucchesi, Megill or Peterson to ultimately emerge from this group. They need one, maybe two for 2024 with the rest serving in a variety of swing man or Triple-A shuttle roles.
That Lucchesi is a deceptive left-handed pitcher should at least afford him more opportunities, but it’s hard to pitch more convincingly than Lucchesi has for them this season, especially when it’s been a general struggle for all of the other candidates.
Around the League 🚩
The Braves clinched the NL East with their 7-6 win over the Phillies on Wednesday
The Astros carried a combined no-hitter into the ninth inning, but still managed to defeat the A’s 6-2 in Houston
The Marlins shutout the Brewers 2-0 and remained 1/2 game out of the third wild card spot thanks to the Reds defeating the Tigers 4-3
The Rangers blew away the Blue Jays 10-0 for their fifth win in a row, but have likely lost Max Scherzer for the year due to a strained tires major muscle
The Rays pulled to within two games of the Orioles with their 5-4 win over the Twins. Meanwhile, Baltimore was shutout 1-0 by the Cardinals at home