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Finding nine innings of pitching for the Mets tonight in Atlanta

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Thanks to a string of injuries, the Mets will have to find the best way to cover nine innings tonight in Atlanta.

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

While the Mets beat the Braves in their series opener in Atlanta last night, the team had to go to the bullpen much earlier than expected when Taijuan Walker left the game with side tightness. And Walker had been pitching deep into games, averaging nearly seven innings over his four starts that preceded that one.

The Mets were already heading into tonight’s game without a true starting pitcher, as Jacob deGrom is on the injured list—with hopes of returning as soon as Friday—and Marcus Stroman pitched on Sunday, while David Peterson would be going on short rest if he were to pitch tonight. And Peterson seems like the obvious starter for the series finale tomorrow night since he would be pitching on regular rest.

Given the reality in which they are living, the Mets have eleven pitchers in their bullpen right now, and some combination of those pitchers and a potential call-up will be tasked with getting them through their game tonight.

The unavailable: Aside from Stroman, Walker, and Peterson, the only pitcher who seems like a lock to be unavailable tonight is Sean Reid-Foley, who threw 43 pitches over three perfect innings with five strikeouts last night. He’s been an outstanding addition for the Mets, and the team should not option him back to Syracuse to make room for someone else today, as he seems far too valuable to not have on the major league roster for the foreseeable future.

The possibly available: Edwin Díaz has pitched in back-to-back games coming into today, though he did throw just nine pitches to record a save against a hyper-aggressive Braves offense in the bottom of the ninth last night. He threw 18 pitches on Sunday, and you’d have to imagine the Mets would prefer to avoid him if they can. But it wouldn’t be shocking to see him back out there if necessary.

Trevor May threw 20 pitches in a rough inning last night that thankfully ended with him giving up just one run. He had two days of rest before that outing, so it would be surprising if he is deemed unavailable. But if it’s possible to get him a day of rest coming off a high-stress outing, that wouldn’t be the worst thing.

The available: Thanks largely to Reid-Foley, the Mets have a bunch of pitchers who should be fresh tonight. Miguel Castro and Aaron Loup haven’t pitched since Friday, while Jacob Barnes, Tommy Hunter, and Drew Smith haven’t pitched since Saturday. Jeurys Familia pitched last night but threw just 13 pitches in his outing and had Sunday off, and Robert Gsellman’s most recent outing came on Sunday but only consisted of 12 pitches. And Joey Lucchesi last pitched on Saturday in a disastrous outing that took 31 pitches and ended with him carrying a 9.19 ERA thus far on the season.

The options: There are a few ways the Mets can go here. With so many well-rested pitchers in their bullpen, they could simply not make a move and try to piece together the entire game with those arms. If they do that, though, there’s some risk for the series finale tomorrow night, as Peterson has lasted four innings or less in three of his seven starts so far this year.

If the team wants to call up someone on the 40-man roster who might be able to pitch multiple innings tonight to take some of the load off the bullpen, Thomas Szapucki would be on regular rest, having most recently pitched for Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday. Jordan Yamamoto, who has already made one appearance for the Mets this year, started for Syracuse on Friday and threw 83 pitches, which could make tonight a bit too soon for him to pitch again.

And Yennsy Diaz and Sam McWilliams, both of whom have a lot of starting experience in their minor league careers, have been pitching exclusively in relief for Syracuse to start the year. The only other pitches on the 40-man roster who aren’t hurt or already on the Mets’ active roster are Stephen Tarpley and Daniel Zamora, both left-handed relievers who don’t seem like an ideal fit since the Braves have only one strictly-left-handed hitter on their roster right now: Freddie Freeman.

If the Mets call someone up from the forty for this game, the most obvious pitcher to option to Syracuse would be Lucchesi, who could probably benefit from working things out a bit in Triple-A before making his next appearance for the Mets. The most intriguing player to call up would be Szapucki, whose prospect status has taken a hit since he made the Baseball Prospectus 101 ahead of the 2017 season thanks in large part to injuries. But the lefty ranked 11th on our list of the organization’s best prospects heading into this season and still has a shot at becoming a good major league pitcher.

Maybe the Mets don’t want Szapucki’s first outing to come under these circumstances or simply want to see more from him in the minors before he makes his first major league start. If that’s the case, they can go with all of the other arms at their disposal—and might want to have Szapucki and Yamamoto ready in case they’re needed for any of the series finale tomorrow night.