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Mets calling up Walker Lockett to start Thursday against the Cubs

Walker Lockett has pitched well going 0-1 with

Walker Lockett has pitched well going 0-1 with a 3.28 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse this season. Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

ATLANTA — The Mets have their backup plan.

The team will call up Walker Lockett from Triple-A Syracuse Thursday to take Noah Syndergaard’s spot in the rotation in a start against the Cubs in Chicago, Mickey Callaway confirmed.

Lockett came to the Mets this offseason in the trade that sent Kevin Plawecki to the Indians. Before getting dealt to the Indians, Lockett struggled in four games with the Padres last year. He’s since showed signs of improvement in the minor leagues this season: The 25-year-old righty has pitched in four games and started three with Syracuse, going 0-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 24 2/3 innings. Locket appeared in four games with the Padres in 2018, going 0-3 with a 9.60 ERA, giving up four homers in 15 innings, with 10 walks and 12 strikeouts.

Callaway said that Lockett was brought on specifically to be an emergency sixth starter this year, and was chosen instead of Wilmer Font simply because he can potentially give them the length they need. Font threw 55 pitches in relief on Sunday, and had he started, would have been limited to about 60. That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t see him Thursday, though.

“I think what we wanted to do was to keep Font more available,” Callaway said. “This guy [Lockett] can come up, he can throw 100 pitches…If he can get rolling, he can pitch deeper into the game and if not, Font can help him out. When you’re using a spot starter like this, you throw him out there and see how effective he can be and if he ends up being an opener, he ends up being an opener. If not, this kid, if he gets on a roll, he can throw six innings because he has a 100-pitch count.”

Callaway seemed fairly certain that Lockett had worked out the control issues that plagued him last year, since he’s only issued four walks in the minors this season. He’s also got major-league experience, a boon against a loaded Cubs lineup at Wrigley.

“I think that he’s been throwing the ball over the plate,” Callaway said. “Tomorrow is going to be his opportunity to see what he can do. We haven’t seen a ton of him in a Mets uniform, we got to see him in spring training a little bit and then obviously he was on the shelf for a while [with elbow soreness], but it sounds like he’s throwing the ball over the plate and he’s going to give us a chance to win a game.”

Syndergaard, who’s expected to miss at least one start, is recovering from a low-grade right hamstring strain, according to the Mets, and says he’s making good progress after tweaking the muscle in a start Saturday, causing him to exit the game.

Wilson shut down

Justin Wilson, who was scratched from his rehab appearance Tuesday, has been shut down  because of a recurrence of his elbow soreness, Callaway said. Wilson was loosening up when he felt the discomfort, and will consult with doctors in the coming days.

Nogosek gets his shot

Stephen Nogosek thought he was on his way to Charlotte Tuesday. Instead, he was about to fulfill a major-league dream.

The  24-year-old righty, who was called up after Jeurys Familia was sent to the injured list and Drew Gagnon was optioned, was traveling with Triple-A Syracuse when he was told he was to take a later flight. Then, silence.

“It was few hours of stress and anxiety,” Nogosek said Wednesday. “I don’t know why or what’s going on.”

He made his major-league debut Wednesday night, facing four batters in the eighth and allowing two singles, both of which came around to score on Nick Markakis' pinch-hit double off Daniel Zamora. 

Nogosek has had a good year in Triple- and Double-A, going 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA, with 35 strikeouts and 17 walks in 31 2/3 innings. The walks may be high, but it’s still an improvement from last year, when he allowed 39 free passes in 52 1/3 innings in Single-A and Double-A.

“I think it was just confidence issue,” he said. “Last year, I was scared to throw it in the zone and led to a lot of walks and once I got back to being confident in my ability and being confident in all my pitches, that’s when everything started to roll nicely. I’m still working on getting better every day…The biggest thing was doing it. Throwing the fastball in the zone, throwing the slider in the zone, throwing the changeup in the zone and realizing that OK, these are plus pitches.”

Familia will rest

Familia, who landed on the injured list with a “Bennett lesion” — a usually asymptomatic bone spur in his pitching shoulder — will likely not require any further tests to refine the diagnosis, Callaway said. The Mets were already aware he had the issue after an earlier MRI. He’ll rest and do arm exercises, then be re-evaluated. Familia has a 7.81 ERA this season, with 21 walks.

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