Friday’s scheduled starter, Jacob deGrom, has generally performed the best in a rotation troubled by injuries to Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Seth Lugo and subpar results from Matt Harvey and Robert Gsellman.
But even deGrom, the National League rookie of the year in 2014 and an All-Star in 2015, has not matched his lofty standards. He entered Friday with a 2-1 record, with an unimpressive 4.07 earned run average.
While deGrom was third in the majors in strikeouts with 67, the Mets would probably prefer that his innings-pitched totals were higher — in eight starts, deGrom has yet to go past seven innings this season, and he has gotten that far in only two instances. It is a troubling trait throughout the Mets’ rotation.
“Starting-wise, we’re not getting deep into games,” Alderson said. “As a result, the bullpen, I think, is getting overworked a bit.”
The Mets bullpen has a 5.13 E.R.A., and its situation is not helped by the ongoing absence of closer Jeurys Familia, who is on the 60-day disabled list after having surgery this month to remove a blood clot in his right shoulder.
Because of the rash of injuries, Alderson said he had begun meeting daily with the Mets’ training staff, something he had not necessarily done in the past. His decision to do so may also be a reflection of all the questions that have been raised about why Mets players continue to be besieged by so many physical setbacks.
Still, help could arrive in the next few weeks. Alderson said Matz and Lugo were “on track” in their rehabilitation assignments, with both pitching several innings on Thursday for Class A St. Lucie. Matz, who started the season on the disabled list with inflammation in his left elbow, could make a start early next week with Class AAA Las Vegas.
Then there is the issue of Matt Harvey. After returning from a three-game suspension for failing to show up for a game, Harvey has seen his E.R.A. balloon to 5.56. Alderson contended that Harvey’s last two starts were pointing in the right direction, but he clearly is not the same pitcher he was earlier in his career.
Indeed, Alderson said that he did not expect Harvey “to be what he used to be” but that the Mets would at least need him to be effective and consistent if they are to salvage the 2017 season.
The Mets play 13 of their next 16 games at home, giving them a chance to make up some ground — nine of those 16 are contests against last-place teams (the San Diego Padres and the Pittsburgh Pirates).
Friday night’s game essentially marked the first quarter of the season, the Mets’ 40th game, and Alderson said that left the team “three-quarters of the season, a lot of the story to be written.”
For now, the Mets do not appear ready to insert additional characters into the next chapters, even though two top prospects — shortstop Amed Rosario and first baseman Dominic Smith — are hitting .366 and .325 for Las Vegas.
“There are no current plans to promote either one of them unless one of them can pitch, in which case, we might reconsider,” Alderson said, adding: “That’s not to say that one or the other of those players wouldn’t be helpful in some way, but we don’t see that as a panacea, and we don’t see it necessarily as the right time in the overall sense of where we are, and who we have currently and what we’re trying to do.”
For now, the Mets are still trying to be contenders. But soon it will be June, and the clock is ticking.
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