The future of the Mets’ rotation will debut on Tuesday night.
The Mets activated left-hander David Peterson, their 10th-ranked prospect, to make his Major League debut Tuesday at Fenway Park against the team that originally drafted him. The Red Sox selected Peterson out of high school in the 28th round in 2014, but he opted to attend the University of Oregon instead. Three years later, the Mets selected him 20th overall.
Last season, Peterson posted a 4.19 ERA over 24 starts for Double-A Binghamton. That stat line included a 4.54 ERA over the first three months of the season and a 3.67 mark thereafter, as Peterson began relying increasingly on his slider. He went on to pitch well in the hitter-friendly Arizona Fall League, then showcased some improved velocity -- up to 95 mph, and regularly sitting 92-93 mph -- when he reported to Spring Training in February.
Added to the Mets’ 60-man player pool at the outset of Summer Camp, Peterson again impressed the Mets in a series of intrasquad starts.
“This kid, just great demeanor,” manager Luis Rojas said. “He presents as that guy that wants to compete, that wants to get you out. He’s always searching. He’s always asking questions. I like his pitchability as far as repertoire, and also controlling the running game, fielding his position. There’s just a good package there.”
Before joining the Mets’ taxi squad this week, Peterson had been training at the Mets’ alternate site in Brooklyn. The Mets also added lefty reliever Daniel Zamora to their taxi squad. MLB rules dictate that the third man on any taxi squad must be a catcher. The Mets, who are already carrying three catchers on their 30-man roster, opted to leave that spot empty for now.
To activate Peterson from the taxi squad, the Mets needed to make both 30- and 40-man roster moves. They planned to complete that process later Tuesday.
Focus on safety
When the Mets arrived at Fenway Park on Monday, they began spreading out across the concourse, which is usually clogged with fans. To help the ballclub socially distance during its first road trip, the Red Sox gave them unfettered access to the concourse, which became a makeshift weight room, training room, cardiovascular area and more.
Like most around baseball, team members paid close attention to the news that Monday's Marlins-Orioles and Yankees-Phillies games were postponed due to coronavirus concerns. However, the Mets believe they are doing everything possible to prevent an outbreak within their clubhouse.
"You've got to get concerned when you see something like that happening," Rojas said. "But at the same time, you've got to be optimistic because this protocol put together by MLB, and the way we've been operating as well following that protocol, it's been pretty good, and we know that it can work."
Rojas said there are times when emotions take over -- such as when Yoenis Céspedes hit a home run on Opening Day -- and social distancing becomes more difficult. In that example, players offered Céspedes high-fives and fist pumps, but quickly sanitized their hands, according to Rojas.
Returning to pitch at Fenway Park for the first time since his loss in Game 6 of the 2013 World Series, Michael Wacha brought a weapon that didn't work nearly as well that day: a biting, diving changeup that he used to great effect in the Mets' 7-4 win over the Red Sox.
Wacha threw 14 changeups in all, generating swings and misses on six of them, compared to three whiffs on his 22 other pitches. The most impressive changeup may have been the one he threw to strike out Andrew Benintendi in the third inning, burying the 89 mph pitch just below the strike zone.
"It's always been my bread-and-butter," Wacha said. "It's kind of what has made me who I am throughout my career with that changeup. But it was good to get some swings and misses on it, get some weak contact on it. It was a pretty effective pitch."
As for his return to Fenway Park, Wacha said the major difference was that there were no fans, compared to all those who packed in to watch a potential World Series clincher back in 2013.
"It definitely brings back some memories," Wacha said, laughing. "Last time I pitched here, it was definitely a little bit different atmosphere."
The Mets recalled reliever Tyler Bashlor from their alternate site in Brooklyn, adding an extra arm after Corey Oswalt pitched four innings in relief on Sunday. For his efforts, Oswalt earned a trip back to Brooklyn.
Bashlor's stay could be brief, however, as the Mets will likely make another roster move on Tuesday to clear space for Peterson (or an alternate starter). In 24 appearances last year, Bashlor posted a 6.95 ERA.
From the trainer's room
Infielder Eduardo Núñez suffered a hyperextended left knee trying to beat out an infield hit in the eighth inning of Sunday's game, but the injury is considered minor. The Mets kept Núñez on their active roster, and are well-suited to cover for him, as Luis Guillorme and Andrés Giménez are also capable of backing up second base, third base and shortstop.
After playing in three consecutive games this weekend for the first time since having three surgeries and not playing in a big league game in more than two years, then taking a four-hour bus ride to Boston, Céspedes opened Monday's game on the bench. Dominic Smith took over at designated hitter, making his first start of the season, while Céspedes was available to pinch-hit if needed.