Jose Butto building case to become mainstay in ’24 Mets rotation

Jose Butto Mets
New York Mets starting pitcher Jose Butto reacts on his way to the dugout during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Sunday, April 14, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

QUEENS, N.Y. — Jose Butto is making the most out of his opportunities to break into the New York Mets’ starting rotation.

The 26-year-old right-hander was nearly untouchable for a second consecutive start on Sunday against the Kansas City Royals, going six innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just two hits with nine strikeouts and a walk.

“He can pitch,” Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. “He’s one of those guys where [Sunady] he was in complete control. He attacked hitters but then when he got behind in counts, he was able to pitch backward. So he found pitches to get back in counts.

“The changeup was in play, the two-seam, the four-seam, he was throwing sliders for strikes, the rhythm. Overall, what a great outing.”

The breadth of his arsenal was on full display in how he compiled his strikeouts. He picked up five in the first two innings alone — all of them swinging, all of them on 87-mph changeups.

Of his final four punchouts of the afternoon between the third and sixth innings, three came on 94-mph fastballs and one came on an 84-mph slider.

“I’ve gotten more comfortable with all of my pitches,” Butto said. “Ahead of the count, behind the count, I feel really good and I feel like I’m controlling any count.”

Mets Jose Butto
Lloyd Mitchell/AMNY

Butto did not make the Opening Day roster after a strong spring training — the fifth and final spot of the rotation went to Tylor Megill, instead. But an injury to Megill while Kodai Senga continues to rehab from a strained shoulder has given him a chance to get back in the fold.

In two starts this season, he’s allowed one run on five hits with 15 strikeouts and four walks over 12 innings of work.

“I have a lot of confidence now,” Butto said. “I just have to continue to keep working and get better every day. I feel really good… I’m just thinking, do my job. When I get my opportunity, I want to be ready, be healthy, and when they say ‘You got this game,’ I’m going to be ready to help the team win.”

Regardless of his hot start, Butto’s spot in the rotation is anywhere but safe. If Mendoza opts not to go to a six-man rotation, there will be one starter cut from the equation when Senga returns, which could come in late May, or when Megill gets back from his shoulder strain.

For now, though, Mendoza seems more than content to ride the hot hand.

“Yeah, he’s going to get another opportunity,” Mendoza said. “He’s not going anywhere. He’s going to continue to get the ball and he’ll get his chance. It’s good to see somebody step up. We’ve been talking about that since Day 1. Guys are going to get hurt and guys are going to get an opportunity and here he is. He’s getting a chance and he’s taking advantage of it.”

For more on Jose Butto and the Mets, visit AMNY.com

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