Mets intrasquad notes: Mark Vientos at first base, Brett Baty's strong showing as the Grapefruit League kicks off today
The Mets will face the Astros in West Palm Beach at 1 PM today, followed by their home opener against the Marlins at Clover Park at 6 PM
What’s Up with the Mets? 🌴
The Mets played an intrasquad game at Clover Park on Friday afternoon - Team Blue shutout Team Pinstripe 3-0 in an abbreviated three inning game
Mark Vientos spent some time at first base for Team Blue, and Brett Baty recorded two opposite field hits against LHP Joey Lucchesi, one of which was a double that split the gap
Lucchesi didn’t allow a run in his two innings of work and threw his, “curve” five times during his outing
Dominic Hamel - one of the club’s top pitching prospects - threw two scoreless innings and said he will play for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic - he is honoring his late mother in the WBC (Newsday)
The Mets open their Grapefruit League schedule today with two games and a split-squad - they will travel to West Palm Beach to face the Astros at 1:05 PM and then host the Marlins at Clover Park at 6:10 PM
Kodai Senga is continuing his work to adjust to American baseball - he began using a PitchCom and is working to adapt to the pitch clock (New York Post)
The Mets are bringing OF Jaylin Davis in on a minor league contract, and will join big league camp (New York Post)
Joey Lucchesi could help fill an innings gap over the course of 2023 ✍🏻
Remember Joey Lucchesi?
He arrived to the Mets before the 2021 season with fanfare revolving around a pitch he called the, “churve.” It’s a fastball/change-up combination pitch which can be ultra-deceptive against left-handed hitters in particular.
Adding to that deception is Lucchesi’s unusual delivery which is an echo of Clayton Kershaw’s ultra-deceptive delivery to the plate, and the Mets thought they had a unique swing-type weapon on their pitching staff.
But then came his elbow injury which required him to undergo Tommy John Surgery late in the 2021 season, knocking him out for most of that year and all of 2022.
A lost year and a sorely missed tool in both the shed’s of Luis Rojas in 2021 and Buck Showalter in 2022, as the Mets have really struggled to find a reliable solution from the left side ever since.
But then came February 24 at Clover Park on a hot and sunny day in the main stadium. After a year and a half spent recovering, rehabbing, and rehabbing some more, Lucchesi made his long-awaited return to the mound and gave Showalter a few things to think about in terms of how he might mold not only his bullpen plans from the left side, but also how the club could fill an innings gap they know full well is coming over the course of the year.
Keeping things simple for a moment, the Mets can really only expect 50-52 starts combined from both Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. In fact, even if they’re healthy, they may only ask them for that number of starts combined in an effort to save their gas for the playoffs come October. As such, the Mets need to find ten starts and 55-75 innings in their absence alone.
Add in the innings and energy management with Carlos Carrasco, and there could be an additional 30-40 innings they need to cover.
All told, they’re looking at 80-100 innings of energy management for these three aging starters.
There’s been a lot of chatter around David Peterson, Tylor Megill and Elieser Hernandez serving to cover that gap, and Peterson in particular has proven to be a reliable stopgap starter over the course of the last year. In fact, Peterson was easily their biggest savior for the Mets starting rotation right out of the gate, and has unquestionably shown he can be an effective mid-to-rear rotation pitcher in the big leagues.
But there are questions and concerns about Megill ranging from the injury risk to what he might be as a major league competent pitcher if he no longer is a max effort arm for them on the mound. Hernandez is a journeyman starting pitcher with inconsistent results over the course of his career as well.
The Mets could also opt for bullpen games and, “openers,” to fill those innings gaps, but those are always stressful for a pitching staff especially during long stretches of consecutive games on the schedule.
But here’s Lucchesi, whose resume is most certainly spotty and is someone who hasn’t pitched in almost two years but provides an element none of the other three candidates have, which is a low mileage arm and a highly deceptive repertoire.
And on Friday, he reminded the Mets what they could have in him.
He threw two scoreless innings for Team Pinstripes in their abbreviated intrasquad game on Friday and was able to deceive with his signature “churve” on a number of occasions.
He will get his next look on Wednesday when he faces the Marlins in Jupiter.
And if he continues on this track, the Mets might not only have their second lefty in the bullpen, but also a solution to their innings gap in the rotation.
Around the League ⚾️
The Padres and Manny Machado are still trying to work out an extension, but a deal isn’t close (Athletic)
Ken Giles threw a bullpen session for the Padres in Arizona on Friday - he is still hoping to latch on with a club (New York Post)
Marlins RHP Sixto Sánchez is not expected to be ready to pitch until the summer (New York Post)
Braves INF Ozzie Albies told reporters this week he had shoulder surgery in the off-season, but he is expected to play second base soon (AJC)