When the Mets were rained out on Tuesday night and scheduled a doubleheader for Thursday, their rotation was thrown off. Chris Young's turn in the rotation would normally come up tonight, but he will now pitch on Sunday after experiencing biceps tendinitis following his first two starts. As a result, the Mets turn to D.J. Carrasco to start tonight in Atlanta.
Coming off a five-game losing streak at home, Mets fans figure to be underwhelmed by the news that a league-average relief pitcher will be making a start at Turner Field. In addition to the daunting task of facing the Braves on the road, Carrasco's start this evening will leave the bullpen short a man for at least the rest of the series in Atlanta. The bullpen has pitched a boatload of innings so far this season, and even with 13 pitchers on the roster, it could use all the arms it can get.
As far as Carrasco goes, this won't be his first start. He's started 23 games in his 250 career appearances and was briefly mentioned in spring training as a potential fifth starter for the team. The grand majority of those starts came in 2005 when he was a member of the Royals, and his most recent start was in 2009 as a member of the White Sox. In total, Carrasco has thrown a total of 125.2 innings as a starter, an average of just a bit more than 5.1 per start. Here are his overall splits as a reliever and a starter:
So Carrasco has been quite a bit more effective out of the bullpen than as a starter, but his starting numbers aren't completely awful. Those numbers are generally similar on his first, second, and third times through opposing batting orders in his starts, which means he is typically mediocre from the beginning.
The Mets have scored 4.8 runs per game so far this year, and they'll need to continue producing at the plate against Derek Lowe if they want to win the game. If there's any hope for the all-bullpen pitching plan, it's that the Braves have struggled to score, averaging only 3.3 runs per game.
The Mets could do worse than Carrasco for a spot-starter, but the rest of the bullpen figures to get plenty of work tonight. The team needs Mike Pelfrey and Chris Young to go deep into their starts tomorrow and Sunday, respectively, to stop the bullpen from being overworked all weekend.