WASHINGTON — What’s clear about the Mets’ starting rotation is that Rafael Montero is no longer in it, not after getting battered for six runs in 1 2⁄3 innings on Monday night against the Nationals.
What’s less clear is exactly how manager Terry Collins will fill the spot.
Ideally, the Mets hope that Jacob deGrom (forearm) and Steven Matz (shoulder) are healthy enough to rejoin the rotation, even if it means abbreviated outings, at least initially. Collins on Tuesday even mentioned the possibility of piggybacking the starters, saying that it is “very possible” using them as a tandem, though that would hinge on their health.
Both pitchers have ramped up their efforts to return. Matz is scheduled to throw his side session on Wednesday, one day after a planned bullpen on Tuesday was wiped out by rain in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
If the Mets stay in rotation, they would need a starter for Sunday’s game against the Twins. They could also lean on a collection of long relievers thanks to expanded roster.
Another possibility is skipping the fifth starters’ spot altogether. Because of Thursday’s off day, Noah Syndergaard could pitch Sunday on regular rest with Robert Gsellman following on Monday.
In that scenario, the Mets wouldn’t need another starter until Tuesday, perhaps giving deGrom and Matz more time to get healthy. However, Syndergaard has pitched on at least one extra day of rest in roughly half of his starts this season.
Said Collins: “We’ll have to see how [Tuesday night] goes and take a look at it through the weekend.”
Infielder Wilmer Flores was not in the starting lineup for the third straight game, and his status as a potential pinch-hitter remained unclear. He is still battling stiffness in his neck, fallout from a collision on Saturday, when he went into an ill-advised headfirst dive at home plate . . . Justin Ruggiano underwent shoulder debridement surgery on Monday, the club announced.