CHICAGO — Good news for anyone with tickets to the first game of the Mets’ homestand: They are holding ace Jacob deGrom back an extra day before his next start, which means he will pitch Friday against the Nationals.
Joey Lucchesi will get the ball against the Cubs in Chicago on Thursday, which originally was deGrom’s assignment.
That lines deGrom up for more important opponents. Had the Mets stayed in order, deGrom would have faced the Cubs, then the Red Sox. This way, if the Mets keep the same rotation, he gets two NL East teams: the Nats, then the Phillies.
Manager Luis Rojas said the Mets tweaked the order because "Jake this time wanted the extra day."
"It keeps Lucchesi in line, too," Rojas added.
Both pitchers started during a doubleheader Saturday in Colorado, so both would have been on regular rest Thursday. DeGrom’s apparent preference to wait a day — Rojas didn’t say why deGrom asked for that — got the priority from management.
Rojas also noted that Lucchesi (55 pitches) didn’t last as long as deGrom (99 pitches) against the Rockies.
Who’s on first?
During J.D. Davis’ extra/informal infield practice Tuesday afternoon at an otherwise quiet Wrigley Field, Luis Guillorme received his throws at first base, making several smooth scoops and stretches.
Rojas said the Mets don’t have any plans to teach Guillorme first base — which would allow the shortstop/third baseman/second baseman to complete his infield quartet — but figured "he’d be open to it" if the team asked.
"By the way, he's been open to being an emergency catcher," Rojas offered. "Him and I had this conversation. He one time threw to the bases — you know how quick he is with his hands — he was actually pretty quick.
"This guy is pretty good on the infield, he's got great hands, he's got a lot of skills defensively. It wouldn’t surprise me that he's able to play first. I know the height of the target (Guillorme is listed at 5-10) could be a little bit of a challenge, but he'll play it and be effective for us in an emergency situation."
Forty-eight hours later, James McCann still was reveling in catching Trevor Story trying to steal second to end the Mets’ win against the Rockies on Sunday.
"I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a walk-off throw out," McCann said. "Being a part of that big moment, good hitter at the plate, one-run game to end the game like that, that was pretty special."
McCann has caught three of nine runners who have attempted to steal. That 33% mark is the same he had last year. In his career, he has thrown out 36% of runners, better than the league average of 28%.
"I take it personally when guys steal bases," McCann said. "I don’t keep up with the percentage. I take care of what I can control. How am I throwing the ball? How is my exchange? How is my footwork? All that type of stuff."
Rojas said he isn’t worried about Francisco Lindor, who began the week hitting .189. "He's almost putting himself in a position where he can hit one certain area, and that’s it," he said. "I think he's got to stay more directional. He knows this." . . . McCann on the rotation’s 2.26 ERA, third-best in the majors, entering play Tuesday: "I take a lot of pride in it." . . . The Mets won’t have to deal with Nationals star Juan Soto this weekend. Soto landed on the injured list with a strained left shoulder. Washington also is missing Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation), reliever Wander Suero (left oblique strain) and others.
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