PHILADELPHIA – The good news for the Mets is that their pitching substitutes have been something near perfect. Less than a week after Tylor Megill won awards with five pointless innings on opening day, David Peterson delivered four pointless relief innings in Monday’s 5-4 loss to the Phillies.
The bad news for the Mets is that the season is not yet a week old and they have already needed several such replacements. Peterson’s effort was necessary because Taijuan Walker only lasted two laps at Citizens Bank Park before leaving due to right shoulder irritation. Later in the match, the replacement left Trevor May due to discomfort in the back of his right arm. Both he and Walker will go for MRI scans on Tuesday to determine the exact nature and severity of what is suffering from them.
And of course, the Mets are already playing without their ace, Jacob deGrom, whose right shoulder injury is likely to keep him out until at least June.
“This one hurts,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Showalter referred most to Monday’s playoffs, with the Mets wasting Peterson’s fine effort as three other relievers combined to allow five runs in the eighth. After May traveled with a coach, Joely Rodríguez allowed a two-run homer to JT Realmuto. Seth Lugo then went from Nick Castellanos with two outs and gave up consecutive doubles to Rhys Hoskins and Didi Gregorius – the first of them made the match a draw, the second brought the Phillies ahead for the first time all night.
But Showalter might as well have referred to the state of his pitching staff. Although everyone involved – Showalter, Walker, May – downplayed the severity of the two injuries, the Mets will not know for sure until they receive the MRI results.
“You want to rule things out,” May said. “There’s no need to wait for certain things, especially when you know tomorrow. I’ve had MRIs for all sorts of things in the past, and it’s pretty much a protocol all the time.”
May described his problem as a mixture of biceps and triceps tenderness that typically affects him in spring training. He indicated that getting out for a second round of work, which he did not do a single time in 2021, may have affected him as he was unable to loosen his arm in the eighth.
Walker described his own injury as a mild bout of tenderness and irritation that “already felt better” after the fight, as confirmed by a series of strength tests.
“I’m pretty good about it,” Walker said.
Had the Mets managed to hold on to their four-run lead, they probably would have left Citizens Bank Park without that much concern at all. As it was, they could still revel in a few positive vibes around Peterson, who knocked out three batters and allowed five base runners over his four pointless innings. After not performing on the opening day, Peterson traveled with the Mets on their taxi team and was then elevated to the active list when Edwin Díaz went on the mourning list over the weekend.
All the while, Peterson remained sharp and understood the fluid nature of pitching sticks. Because Walker had left his last spring training start due to a right knee injury and was not fully stretched out, Peterson arrived at the ball field Monday and reckoned he would be used at some point.
“If you do not let the team get out of spring training,” Peterson said, “then you will not be ready when it’s your time.”
Now he wants to stay ready; if Walker had to miss a rotation turn or more, Peterson would be the obvious candidate to replace him. Whatever happens to May, the Mets will also receive a bullpen boost on Tuesday, with Díaz scheduled to return from mourning. (The team must either select a player for the minors or place someone on the injured list to clear space.)
Whether these are actually short-term injuries or something more sinister, the Mets are ready to deal with them. They have already done so with deGrom. They will do so along with various others over the course of a long season.
“We’ve always focused on depth, especially pitching,” Peterson said. “My job is to go out there and get out. No matter what capacity there is, wherever I need it, I’m there.”