Mets still not committing to Walker Lockett as fifth starter despite lean rotation

Walker Lockett
Walker Lockett (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

If you’re looking for a straight answer from the New York Mets, you’ll rarely get it.

Such is the case with the simple question of who their starting pitcher will be Wednesday night against the Washington Nationals with their rotation currently in shambles.

After Michael Wacha went down with shoulder inflammation, Marcus Stroman — who was on the cusp of returning from a torn calf muscle this week to take Wacha’s spot — opted out of the 2020 season, leaving the Mets with four healthy starters.

Earlier on Tuesday, as the Mets prepared to trot out Rick Porcello against Washington ace, Max Scherzer, the team activated Walker Lockett from the injured list with the expectation that he would fill in and be the fifth starter for the time being.

The only problem is that manager Luis Rojas wasn’t ready to commit to that.

“Walker is a part of our bullpen tonight,” he said, opting for Tuesday night’s game to play out before making a decision on Wednesday’s starter.

Lockett looks to be on the verge of getting another crack at the Mets’ rotation, even if it’s on a limited basis, despite struggling mightily over 13 MLB appearances, including seven starts. He is sporting an 8.84 career ERA with six home runs allowed in 22.2 innings of work.

Yet Rojas was pleased with what he saw from the 26-year-old during the offseason and the ramp-up back to play this summer.

“From first camp to this camp, the addition of a cutter has been a new weapon to his repertoire for both lefties and righties,” Rojas said, also citing an uptick in his velocity. “He’s a contact pitcher… He can get through a lineup with fewer pitches and adding the cutter that can be another contact pitch from him.”

“It’s great to have him come in and join us in the bullpen.”

Or in the rotation on Wednesday, or as the long man should the Mets choose to go with a bullpen game.