Wacha, Matz to pitch out of bullpen for now

September 13th, 2020

The Mets have made it clear that they want to maximize the returns from their top two starting pitchers, and , as they try to lift themselves into a playoff spot over the season’s final two weeks. As such, they will start deGrom and Lugo every fifth day, as opposed to every fifth game.

The fallout from that decision is that will pitch out of the bullpen at least temporarily, since the Mets no longer need a fifth starter. The Mets on Sunday also activated from the injured list and placed him in their bullpen, adding two length options to that group.

To clear roster space, the Mets optioned reliever to their alternate site in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“They’re all good about these conversations and how we’re going to use them,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said of Matz and Wacha. “This season is definitely different with the 60 games, and now the 14 games that we have left. The guys, they want to get in there and help the team win games.”

Matz had been sidelined since Aug. 30 due to left shoulder bursitis. Formerly a starting pitcher, the Mets converted him to relief work last month after he posted a 14.66 ERA over his first three August starts. But Matz appeared just once out of the bullpen before injuring his arm.

He has since been throwing at the team’s alternate site, stretching out to around 60 pitches in simulated games and bullpen sessions.

Wacha also offers the promise of length out of the bullpen. Rojas said he spoke to the longtime starter earlier this week about the role change. Wacha’s response?

“He said, ‘I’ll be ready,’” Rojas recalled. “That’s all he said.”

With those two in the bullpen, the Mets will proceed with a rotation of on Tuesday, deGrom on Wednesday and Lugo on Thursday, then reassess. Most likely, either Matz or Wacha will reenter the rotation when the Mets next need a fifth starter on Saturday.

From the trainer’s room
Outfielder avoided the injured list after leaving Saturday’s game due to right hamstring tightness. He is day to day and was hopeful of being available off the bench as soon as Sunday.

Marisnick, the right-handed half of a center-field platoon with , said he tweaked his hamstring running the bases in the third inning Saturday. Nimmo pinch-hit for Marisnick in the sixth, as he departed in an effort to avoid further injury.

“I think it got to the point where you’re a little better off being cautious with it and it being a day or two, as opposed to further injuring it and being out the rest of the season,” Marisnick said.

Marisnick would know; he missed a month earlier this season due to a left hamstring strain. In Marisnick’s absence on Sunday, Nimmo drew a rare start against a left-handed pitcher.

Sick to his stomach
The Mets lost their hottest hitter midway through Sunday’s 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays in Buffalo, N.Y., when departed due to gastrointestinal distress. He was "feeling better" after the game, according to Rojas, and is day to day.

McNeil singled and scored in the first inning and grounded out in the third, increasing his batting average to .464 over his last eight games. An inning later, McNeil left the dugout carrying a bat with him and did not return. replaced him on defense in the fourth.

McNeil has done a little bit of everything for the Mets this season, starting regularly in left field and at second and third base. Following a slow start, he’s batting .407 over his last 16 games.