LOS ANGELES — The Mets’ already thin rotation took another blow Tuesday when the team placed Carlos Carrasco on the 15-day injured list with an inflamed right elbow.
Carrasco, who was scheduled to start Friday in San Francisco, went 0-2 with an 8.56 ERA in his first three outings. His speed dropped significantly in those games, and he walked as many batters (eight) as he struck out.
Although Carrasco had his best start last time out in Oakland — allowing two runs in five innings — he walked away with abnormal pain and swelling in his elbow, according to manager Buck Showalter. This prompted the Mets to monitor Carrasco and ultimately bring him back to New York for an MRI. The team should know the results of this test by Wednesday.
“It’s been a challenge,” Showalter said.
Elbow problems are nothing new for Carrasco, who has 18 months of surgery to remove a bone fragment from the joint. Carrasco also skipped his last Grapefruit League start due to what Showalter called “elbow maintenance”, describing it as typical of Carrasco. To what extent Carrasco experienced continued discomfort in April is unclear.
In his absence, the Mets will need to deepen their starting throwing depth, which was robust at the start of spring training but has since soaked up several hits. In addition to Carrasco, starters Justin Verlander (teres major strain) and José Quintana (recovering from rib surgery) are on the IL. Verlander is due back in May, Quintana not before July at the earliest. Their absences forced the Mets to make David Peterson and Tylor Megill regular members of the rotation, where both found success.
The Mets also pushed back Max Scherzer’s latest start due to lingering back pain; he is due back at the mound on Wednesday.
“I try to look on the positive side,” Showalter said. “I hope tonight and tomorrow will go well.”
So who could replace Carrasco? Scherzer’s temporary replacement, Jose Butto, was returned to Triple-A Syracuse on Monday. The Mets could have recalled Butto when they placed Carrasco on the IL, but instead opted for an extra reliever, Jeff Brigham. MLB rules now prohibit the Mets from recalling Butto within 10 days of his demotion unless the team places someone else on the IL.
The most obvious candidate to come from Syracuse is left-hander Joey Lucchesi, who is 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA in three starts with Syracuse. The team could also proceed with a bullpen game if they want to push reliever Tommy Hunter, who is due back from IL in the next few days, for several innings.