Mets wary of ‘challenge’ that lies ahead for fluid bullpen situation

Tylor Megill Mets
Tylor Megill (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Buck Showalter made it known that he isn’t going to have enough time during the regular season to decipher exactly what he has in the Mets’ bullpen this fall. 

Once Max Scherzer returns, the team’s starting rotation will be in a rare place as all of its expected five starters — Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker, and Chris Bassitt — will be healthy and available heading into the stretch run. 

With that, David Peterson could be flexed to the bullpen while Tylor Megill — who performed so admirably at the start of the season when deGrom was on the IL — has already been predestined for that role once he returns from a shoulder injury that has kept him out since June. 

Megill throws on Tuesday night and depending on he feels, could return to the Mets soon after.

“The discussion is whether he pitches again or comes here,” Showalter said. “Probably going to have that discussion sometime [Wednesday].

Still, both Megill and Peterson will likely be on red alert to start (or open, as Showalter chimed) should health issues crop up again. 

Quite a task to be deciphered by Showalter in the home stretch of a playoff push considering the Mets have to keep closer Edwin Diaz and more cemented late-inning options like Seth Lugo, Adam Ottavino, and the recently-returned Trevor May fresh.

While Diaz has established himself as the top closer in baseball this season, Lugo has a 1.93 ERA over his last 13 appearances while carrying the reverse splits necessary to be considered a legitimate option to take on the most dangerous left-handed batters of an opposing lineup. 

David Peterson Mets
David Peterson (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Ottavino has enjoyed a resurgence during his first year in Queens, posting a 2.06 ERA this season and yielding just six earned runs in his last 47 innings pitched. He’s become the front-runner to be the eighth-inning bridge to Diaz, which was a responsibility initially given to May when he was acquired from the Minnesota Twins last season. 

The problem was that May has battled injuries and, most recently, COVID, to throw a major wrench into his 2022 campaign. Still, after returning from an IL stint in August, he has a 3.48 EA over 11 outings and hasn’t given up a run or hit in his last four.

“What do you do?” Showalter rhetorically asked. “Do you catapult [Peterson and Megill] in front of Ottavino or Lugo or Diaz for that matter? How far do you take it?… It’s going to be a challenge to wade through that to try and win the game, No. 1, which is the most important thing, and also accomplish some of those things.

“The game doesn’t always cooperate for the perfect situation to present itself.”

Especially because the Mets don’t have the luxury of taking the foot off the gas pedal. Entering Tuesday night’s matchup with the Chicago Cubs, their lead atop the National League is at just 1.5 games over the defending-champion Atlanta Braves. 

“[Hopefully, we’re] closer to understanding what our strengths and weakness will be over the next two-to-three weeks,” Showalter said. “If you think the next two, three weeks are going to answer that in black and white, you’re probably kidding yourself.”

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