Mets Diamond Notes: Collin McHugh Optioned Back to Buffalo, Murphy to Get Rest

By Matt Musico

Although he didn’t get a decision Thursday afternoon against the Rockies, Collin McHugh impressed everyone in his MLB debut, as he went 7 scoreless innings while striking out 9 hitters. So, what is his reward? He got optioned back to Triple-A Buffalo yesterday. The move was made to create room for Jeremy Hefner to return to the roster, who was on paternity leave, as he and his wife had their second child.

Terry Collins explained to McHugh that he was sent down for no other reason than the fact that he wouldn’t be pitching for a while. With a six-man rotation set to go for the rest of the year and an off day Monday for the Mets, the rookie wouldn’t have been scheduled to take the mound for another 8 days. The manager told his young hurler that he will be back in a week and a half when rosters expand, and will be making multiple starts for the Amazins once he is recalled. Between the majors and minors, McHugh has thrown 150.2 innings, and with 156.1 frames under his belt last season, he’s not in danger of reaching a pitching limit, which will probably hover around 185 innings. It’s always disappointing to see a rookie get sent down after a great debut, but McHugh will pitch Tuesday or Wednesday in Buffalo to stay on the same rotation schedule, which he identifies as most important. I’m looking forward to watching him pitch again next month.

The Mets are nearing a franchise record, but not one that they were hoping for this season. They have gone seven straight games with scoring two or less runs; they’re approaching the record of 10 games, which happened during the 1964 season. To continue talking about offensive futility, New York is only hitting .113 (8-for-71) in their last 10 games with runners in scoring position. At 57-69, the Amazins are 12 games under .500 for the first time since they finished the 2009 season 70-92.

Daniel Murphy wasn’t in the lineup during last night’s loss to the Astros at Citi Field, and he won’t be starting again this afternoon when R.A. Dickey comes to the mound. These are two planned off-days for Murph, as Collins said that he’s tired and needs a day or two to take a breath. The second baseman told the media that he’s no more tired than any other starting MLB player at this point in the season. He’s hitting .286 on the season, but after a solid July (.360/.380/.528), he’s struggled in 66 August at-bats (.212/.293/.273).

It’s good that Collins was able to find some time to rest his second baseman before the calendar flips to September, but Murphy is right; everyone is tired and dealing with small injuries at this point in the year. So, this really shouldn’t have been an excuse to rest him for two days in a row. However, with how pitiful the Mets have been playing, Collins has the opportunity to let someone like Justin Turner get a start and see if he can give a sleeping offense a spark. As you can tell, it obviously didn’t work.

If you thought the Mets were the kings of clearing payroll, then you haven’t heard the blockbuster trade that’s currently in process between the Dodgers and Red Sox. Los Angeles has claimed Adrian Gonzalez off waivers, and they’re working with Boston to bring Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford to Hollywood for James Loney and a boatload of prospects. The Red Sox will most likely have to kick in some money, but those three players are due $261 million through the life of their contracts. That’s a lot of payroll flexibility for Ben Cherington.