PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — As the Mets try to figure out the back end of their rotation, manager Luis Rojas will head to the laboratory Saturday.
The grand experiment will entail using Jacob Barnes as an opener, who would pitch one or two innings against the Astros, before giving the ball to Joey Lucchesi.
“Lucchesi has come out of the bullpen twice, and he’s very honest, we want to see how he responds,” Rojas said before the Mets lost to the Nationals in an exhibition game Friday night. “Why not do it when he has one more outing in camp and we can get a good feel on how he feels out there and if he feels there is no difference? I look at a lot of our relievers, and the vast majority can probably do it.”
David Peterson, who started Friday, will assume a spot in the Mets’ rotation, but another opening exists because of the right hamstring tear that will place Carlos Carrasco on the injured list to begin the season.
Lucchesi, a lefty, isn’t a lock for the rotation or bullpen, according to Rojas — who mentioned Jerad Eickhoff and Mike Montgomery as other pitchers under consideration for a role. The job competition narrowed in recent days when Jordan Yamamoto was optioned to the minor leagues and Corey Oswalt was reassigned.
Barnes’ stock has risen with four straight scoreless outings in the Grapefruit League.
Noah Syndergaard threw from the stadium mound with hitters in the box (who weren’t allowed to swing). Though the right-hander will begin the season on the 60-day injured list as he completes his rehab from Tommy John surgery, he has impressed Rojas with his dedication this spring. Included was showing up Thursday when players had a complete day off to play catch.
“He’s in unbelievable shape,” Rojas said.
Syndergaard has hit 97 mph on the radar gun in recent days, according to Rojas, and is throwing his full assortment of pitches.
“From what I have seen it looks like he is ready to pitch,” Jacob deGrom said. “But you follow those guidelines that you don’t want to rush it back, so the goal is to get healthy and stay healthy.”
DeGrom underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after he was drafted by the Mets in 2010.
“I went through that rehab process and I know, I was fortunate enough to where I felt good throughout, but there were times I was told to pump the brakes here a little bit here, don’t get too far ahead of yourself,” deGrom said. “It’s definitely exciting knowing we are going to have [Syndergaard] back in the rotation. Seeing his bullpens and stuff, it’s been fun to watch.”