JUPITER, Fla. — Instead of Jacob deGrom pitching Friday night against the Nationals at Clover Park — a contest televised on SNY — the Mets instead will have him face teammates in a simulated game earlier in the day, manager Luis Rojas said.
The reason: Don’t let Washington get an extra look at him so close to Opening Day (Thursday).
DeGrom already saw the Nats over the weekend. Doing so in back-to-back outings right before the games start mattering is something the Mets wanted to avoid.
Also, it will allow lefthander David Peterson, penciled in as the No. 4 starter, to face them in the ace’s place. He has pitched in only two Grapefruit League games (six innings) this year.
"We want to see Peterson as well," Rojas said. "We talked about Jake facing the Nats a couple of times [and] also Peterson wanting us to see him in the ‘A’ game, as we call it."
The Mets optioned Jordan Yamamoto to Triple-A and reassigned Corey Oswalt on Wednesday afternoon.
That suggests they’ve decided on Joey Lucchesi as the fifth starter to open the season.
The Mets made a late switch to Wednesday’s schedule, opting to have Oswalt pitch against the Cardinals instead of Taijuan Walker.
Walker threw five innings (80 pitches) of living batting practice against backups/minor-leaguers on the stadium field at the Mets’ facility.
He said he asked Rojas and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner for the change so he could work on his curveball, his fourth pitch. Rojas said it was because the Mets wanted to get another look at Oswalt.
"The main focus was getting that curveball going," Walker said. "I think I threw 17 or 18, which was the plan, just to kind of get that feel back."
Rojas said, "We’re just taking advantage more so to keep evaluating Oswalt in this outing."
In a 3-0 exhibition loss, Oswalt allowed St. Louis one run and two hits in four innings. He struck out three and walked none.
Wednesday marked one year since the Mets announced that Noah Syndergaard has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. Friday is the anniversary of the operation.
Still two-plus months from pitching in a major-league game, Syndergaard tossed a brief bullpen session Wednesday. His mid-workout drink of choice: S.Pellegrino sparkling water.
In mulling lineup choices, Rojas said he gets some players’ input on where they like to hit. "I do ask them. Probably not everybody," he said. "If I ask [Jeff] McNeil, he'll ask me to hit third every day. But we do have some of those conversations and I see where their head is at." . . . Reliever Tommy Hunter has an opt-out clause in his minor-league deal Thursday. Outfielder Mallex Smith has one next week . . . The Mets also reassigned catcher/first baseman Bruce Maxwell and infielder Brandon Drury. They have 40 players left in major-league camp.