Mets add Lockett, Brach; 'pen at full strength

August 11th, 2020

NEW YORK -- In yet another series of roster moves, the Mets on Tuesday reinstated pitchers and from the injured list, optioning reliever and catcher to their alternate site in Brooklyn.

Although Lockett is a candidate to provide significant innings Wednesday in place of injured starter Michael Wacha, the Mets wanted to wait to announce their plans until after getting through Tuesday’s game. If Lockett does pitch Wednesday, it could happen either as a starter or as a bulk reliever behind an opener.

Lockett, 26, last appeared in the Majors last September as a reliever. He also made four starts for the Mets earlier last season, posting a 7.79 ERA in those outings.

Since that time, Lockett has added a cut fastball to what used to be a three-pitch mix -- sinker, changeup and curveball. He also showcased improved velocity in Summer Camp, before a bout of mild back tightness sent him to the IL to start the season.

If Lockett succeeds in his next chance, he could become a regular rotation option for as long as Wacha is sidelined.

“He’s a contact pitcher,” manager Luis Rojas said. “He’s a guy that can induce some contact. He can get through a lineup with fewer pitches. Adding the cutter, which can be another contact pitch for him, is just adding more to the pitcher he is.”

Even with Lockett present, the Mets could still proceed with a full-fledged bullpen game on Wednesday. Or they could precede Lockett with an opener such as Robert Gsellman, theoretically easing the burden on him.

Full-strength bullpen

The addition of Brach gave the Mets, for the first time, the bullpen mix that they thought they would have going into the season. They played their first 17 games without Brach, who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving at Summer Camp and spent six weeks recovering and working his arm back into shape.

“I’m glad Brad is back here with us,” Rojas said. “He adds more experience to a season like this, [as a] guy that can come in right away and attack, get batters out. The stuff that Brach has, the experience that he has, there’s definitely a lot that he brings to it.”

A late-season signing for the Mets last year, Brach worked with then-pitching coach Phil Regan to develop a cutter that he used heavily in posting a 3.68 ERA over 16 appearances. The Mets re-signed him after the season to a one-year, $850,000 contract, which is now prorated.

Brach joins a middle-innings mix that also includes Gsellman, Chasen Shreve and Drew Smith -- far less of a patchwork group than the one the Mets relied on last month.

“I don’t know if I would have made a difference at all, but you always think that as a reliever,” Brach said, referring to the bullpen’s early struggles. “I think as someone that has been doing it for a while and knows what I can provide for a team, I can’t help but look back at some of those games and think that maybe I could have helped.”

Mixing and matching

For the Mets’ 18th game, Rojas wrote out his 18th different batting order. It marked the longest stretch of unique lineups the Mets have used to start a year since their inaugural season in 1962.

Tuesday’s version did not include regular first baseman Pete Alonso, who received a routine day off, nor shortstop Amed Rosario, who was battling a minor stomach illness.

From the trainer’s room

Second baseman was at Citi Field on Tuesday performing baserunning drills in front of members of the Mets’ performance staff. Canó, who is nursing an adductor muscle strain, is eligible to come off the IL on Friday. “But we still have to get there and make sure that he passes everything that he needs to in the rehab assignment,” Rojas said.

Also progressing is outfielder (left hamstring strain), who played two innings in center field and took three at-bats during a simulated game Monday. Marisnick is eligible to come off the IL whenever he is ready, but he’ll have a new challenger for playing time upon his return: Billy Hamilton, who has overtaken backup center-field reps in Marisnick’s absence.

Tools of ignorance

A day after infielder Luis Guillorme made his debut on the mound in a 16-4 blowout, first baseman Dominic Smith spent some pregame time practicing his throws from behind home plate. Smith, the Mets’ emergency catcher, carries a mitt with him on road trips and considers himself an “emergency everything.”

“He wanted to pitch that ninth inning, too, last night,” Rojas said.

Hall of Famer

Gary Gentry, who pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings to win Game 3 of the 1969 World Series, has been inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Gentry, 73, starred for Arizona State in the 1967 College World Series. He struck out 229 batters that season, an NCAA single-season record that stood for 40 years, and finished 17-1 with a 1.14 ERA.