Drew Gagnon didn’t mind this last-minute change of plans. Fortunately for him, neither did his fiancee.
Gagnon (pronounced GAHN-yo) intended to spend his down time during the Triple-A All-Star break at the Grand Canyon, but news that the Mets were calling him up to start Tuesday night against the Phillies at Citi Field canceled those plans.
His fiancee understood.
“Didn’t go to the Grand Canyon, but we’re definitely going to rebook that,” he said before Monday’s doubleheader during his first interview with reporters in the big leagues.
No corresponding roster move was announced, but Mickey Callaway confirmed that Gagnon, 28, will make his MLB debut Tuesday. Although he has a 4.67 ERA in 96 1⁄3 innings for Las Vegas this season, Gagnon has been trending upward. He had a 3.08 ERA in 38 innings in June and allowed two runs in six innings Wednesday.
“He’s been pitching really good in Triple-A,” Callaway said. “Really good changeup, and he’s very aggressive with his fastball. He throws it in the zone.”
The Pirates drafted Gagnon out of high school in the 10th round in 2008 but he chose not to sign. He attended Long Beach State and was drafted by the Brewers in the third round in 2011. He pitched in the Brewers’ system before being dealt to the Angels with catcher Martin Maldonado for catcher Jett Bandy in December 2016. The 6-4 righthander signed with the Mets on Dec. 29, 2017.
The years spent in the minors made the call-up even more special. Gagnon said he learned he was going to New York while he and his teammates were discussing All-Star break plans. He called his time in the minors “long, but well worth it.”
“I didn’t believe it at first, but then I found out it was actually real, so I was shocked,” Gagnon said. “It didn’t hit me at the time, but I’m here now, so it’s real.”
Gagnon said his parents, his three sisters and his fiancee will attend his debut.
A command pitcher who learned to keep the ball low in the zone in Vegas’ hitter-friendly atmosphere, Gagnon said he plans to “just keep doing what I know. Mixing speeds, not trying to overpower anyone. You learn at Vegas, obviously, if you keep the ball up, the ball goes out. So you learn how to pitch there. That’s what I’m going to do, just keep the ball down.”
A career 5.86 ERA in Triple-A and a 4.78 ERA overall in the minors suggest that Gagnon will have to locate his pitches to avoid trouble in the big leagues, but with the Mets thin on pitching options, Callaway opted to reward him.
A vacation to the Grand Canyon can wait.