PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Mets are not ready to say in definitive terms how they will fill the holes in their rotation, but they are willing to strongly suggest a couple of solutions.
Lefthander David Peterson probably will be in the starting five, manager Luis Rojas said Friday, solidifying what had been a likelihood since the start of camp. And to replace Carlos Carrasco, who is out with a strained right hamstring, the Mets again are mulling using an opener in addition to one of their depth starters.
"There’s a lot of different strategies that you can think of," Rojas said.
They don’t have to think too hard to come up with the strategy of Peterson. Coming off a strong rookie year, during which he had a 3.44 ERA in 10 games, he seemed like a safe bet to open the season as the No. 5 starter, though they told him to compete for the job when he reported to spring training.
He has been fine in two Grapefruit League starts — three runs, two walks, one strikeout in six innings — though his 2020 performance means more.
"We feel that Petey is going to be part of our rotation," Rojas said. "It’s tough to say we’re comparing everyone, they’re still competing or something like that after something like this [Carrasco getting hurt] happens.
"All along, even though we were talking about the fifth spot, you’ve got to think of Petey because of the job he did last year and how he’s thrown the ball stuff-wise. And his mentality, just who this kid is."
The other opening is more open-ended. Lefthander Joey Lucchesi and righthander Jordan Yamamoto are among the traditional options, though the Mets may go non-traditional.
An opener is when a team uses a high-leverage reliever for the first inning or two, then brings in a starter/long reliever for the middle of the game. The idea is to have the better pitcher (a very good reliever) face the other team’s strongest hitters (the top half or so of the lineup), even if it means putting both pitchers in situations they are not accustomed to.
The Mets have mentioned in years past the possibility of using an opener, but they haven’t actually done it.
"There's individuals here and there's lineups out there that we could benefit from having an opener," said Rojas, who pushed back against the idea that the Mets would consistently deploy such a strategy every time the fifth starter’s spot comes up.
"We can study that, we can sit down, but we feel we have individuals that can help us open a game and then pass the ball to a long [reliever]/starter depth guy that we have in camp. We're seeing it from every angle. We have the 10 days left. But those are going to be the conversations that we have as we're nearing the goal line."
As for Carrasco, who entered spring training as the likely No. 2 starter, Rojas declined to say how long the Mets expect him to be out.
Sources familiar with the results of the MRI on Carrasco’s strained right hamstring said Thursday night that he won’t return for 6-8 weeks.
"The timeline hasn’t been established just because they [the medical staffers] are learning Cookie, too," Rojas said, calling Carrasco by his nickname. "Guys just heal differently and the timeline can be different."
Carrasco, who is expected to discuss his injury with reporters on Saturday, showed up to Clover Park on Friday "early, like really early," Rojas said.
"He was moving a lot better," Rojas said. "He’s waiting for the plan of attack, everything that’s going to be put into place from the medical standpoint."