Taijuan Walker has followed his All-Star first half with his two worst starts of the year, causing his ERA to balloon from 2.50 to 3.43.
But ahead of him taking the mound at noon Thursday against Atlanta, the Mets believe they have fixed the problem: a four-seam fastball that recently hasn’t had as much "carry" as it did most of the season, manager Luis Rojas said.
The Mets used slow-motion cameras to analyze the slightest of changes in Walker’s release point and grip. Walker translated that information into his between-starts bullpen session, and now they hope he can translate it into the game.
"We know he can," Rojas said. "This is a guy who is a veteran, has a feel for it. Now, since the information has been given to him, he can make the adjustment."
Before the All-Star break, opposing hitters batted .161 against Walker’s four-seamer. Since, they are hitting .364 against it.
"He needs that fastball," Rojas said. "I don’t think he’s had it consistently in the last two starts."
The Mets are being deliberate with Jacob deGrom, who still is sidelined with right forearm tightness.
He did not throw a ball Tuesday, was limited to catch Wednesday and is scheduled for his second abbreviated bullpen session Thursday.
"It’s encouraging to listen to him say he feels better and better each day," Rojas said. "Is it night and day? I don’t think it’s fully night and day. But I think it’s progressing."
Because deGrom hasn’t pitched since July 7, it is a virtual certainty that he will need a simulated game and/or minor-league rehabilitation assignment before returning to a major-league mound.
Carrasco on the brink
About to finally make his Mets debut, Friday against the Reds at Citi Field, the typically upbeat Carlos Carrasco has been even more so in recent days, Rojas said.
Carrasco has been sidelined with a torn right hamstring since mid-March but has been cleared to pitch in a game that counts, albeit while he is limited to four-or-so innings and/or 60-or-so pitches.
"He’s always had a really good presence, but you can see there’s a little more excitement," Rojas said. "He’s like a little kid, ready to have fun with the rest of the guys and be participating on the field."
Carrasco declined to comment ahead of his first game.
The rotation against Cincinnati following Carrasco: Rich Hill on Saturday and Marcus Stroman on Sunday.
The Mets designated Jerad Eickhoff for assignment — for the third time in a month — on Wednesday. He allowed 10 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings against Atlanta on Tuesday night.
That made room for righthander Akeem Bostick, who was called from up Triple-A Syracuse. He signed a minor-league deal with the Mets in mid-May and in 10 games (eight starts) in the minors has a 6.21 ERA.
Bostick, 26, has never played in the majors before. He was the Rangers’ second-round pick in 2013.
Rojas on Noah Syndergaard’s next step after a bullpen session Tuesday: "I don’t know exactly. He’ll be playing catch and doing all the hard work that he does at the gym. He works really hard." . . . The Mets are asking fans to wear black Friday, when they will debut their new black jerseys.
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