Mets starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff throws during the second inning...

Mets starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff throws during the second inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, June 28, 2021, in Washington. Credit: AP/Alex Brandon

ATLANTA — A day after getting battered by the Nationals, the Mets designated pitcher Jerad Eickhoff for assignment and called up a top prospect, lefthander Thomas Szapucki to help give them some length as they head into the All-Star break.

Eickhoff made an excellent debut with the Mets on June 21, allowing no runs over four innings, but fared far worse Sunday, giving up five runs on eight hits over six innings. Szapucki, meanwhile, hasn’t quite been lights out in Triple-A, pitching to an 0-3 record with a 4.41 ERA. He’s expected to work out of the bullpen, though Luis Rojas said it’s possible he could start in the future.

"It was a very tough conversation," Rojas said of Eickhoff. "He’s a good man. He’s a good pitcher . . . The need that we had, it’s just a tough decision."

Rehabs aplenty

A slew of Mets are taking significant steps toward a long-awaited return.

Jeurys Familia (hip) pitched a perfect inning in his rehab assignment in Triple-A Syracuse Tuesday, while Thomas Nido (wrist) went 1-for-4 with a run and caught seven innings. J.D. Davis (hand) is expected to begin his rehab assignment Wednesday, while Jonathan Villar (calf) will follow him on Thursday.

Shoring up the defense

After committing eight errors over four games, Rojas said they’d continue to work and make adjustments, even as a difficult schedule has made things more challenging.

"It’s cost us extra outs, extra pitches, and that’s one part that’s going to make our pitching more effective with our pitch counts, playing good defense behind them," he said. "We’ve just got to keep working hard and trust the ability that we have as a defensive team . . . Just as a team, we’ve got to come in and do some more work, so we maintain our trust and we also improve."

 

Before this stretch, the Mets generally had been a defensively sound team, and have 32 defensive runs saved, which is tied for fifth in Major League Baseball.