Jose Butto throws 2 clean innings as Mets competition gets underway

Jose Butto Mets
Jose Butto (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Mets are getting straight down to business when it comes to the competition for the vacant No. 5 spot in their starting rotation. 

After Tylor Megill toed the rubber for New York’s spring training opener on Saturday afternoon, Jose Butto took the hill on Monday, recording two shutout innings against a Houston Astros B-lineup. He threw 39 pitches, allowing three hits with one strikeout. 

Megill overcame some early command issues on Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals, allowing one run on two hits with three strikeouts in two innings. He did not show off his new “American Spork” much — a pitch he derived off the injured Kodai Senga’s “Ghost Forkball.”

While Megill gets another opportunity to prove that he can stick within the rotation in the majors, Butto used a strong half-season last year to force his way into the 2024 conversation. 

Tylor Megill Mets
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The 25-year-old right-hander went 1-2 with a 3.29 ERA in his final five starts in September, striking out 28 and walking just nine. He walked 14 and struck out just 10 in four sporadic starts from April to August.

“The confidence I have now has really raised to another level,” Butto said in September. “Every opportunity is an opportunity to be able to have success. That’s what I’m really grateful for, to go out there and put in a lot of work.”

Taking on the Nationals on Monday, the Mets will trot out a third member of the competition for that No. 5 spot, Max Kranick. 

The 26-year-old righty was claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates in January with plus stuff teased despite the lack of tangible time on the mound. Kranick underwent Tommy John surgery in 2022, which robbed him of the entire year last season. 

Joey Lucchesi is also expected to be in the mix, especially if manager Carlos Mendoza is looking to institute a six-man rotation — something he hasn’t fully committed to yet. 

The competition for the bottom-of-rotation spots came to fruition due to Senga’s strained shoulder, which has shut him down for at least the next three weeks. He is expected to be on the injured list come the start of the 2024 campaign.

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