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Mets fifth starter battle could carry over into the regular season

Feb 22, 2021; Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA; New York Mets pitcher Joey Lucchesi (47) casts a shadow on the outfield of Clover Park as he warms up during the first day of full-squad spring training workouts. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 22, 2021; Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA; New York Mets pitcher Joey Lucchesi (47) casts a shadow on the outfield of Clover Park as he warms up during the first day of full-squad spring training workouts. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Mets must proceed with caution when it comes to Carlos Carrasco. Some spring training soreness might not derail his season entirely but it should force the team to handle him carefully heading into the games that count.

Fortunately, the club is well-equipped to get by without Carrasco even if only for a little while. The fifth starter battle between David Peterson and newcomer Joey Lucchesi is on and a missing in action Carrasco could mean the two continue their battle for supremacy into the regular season.

Starting the year with Peterson and Lucchesi in the rotation is far from ideal. However, it’s much better than what we saw last year as Mets starters dropped like flies.

The silver lining to the continued Mets pitching battle

You can probably find a silver living just about anywhere. When it comes to this fight for the last rotation spot, we can see one as well.

The Mets know firsthand what Peterson can do. He performed well for them as a rookie in 2020. Sans sophomore jinx, he could be just as good, if not better, this year.

Lucchesi is more of a question mark. Acquired this winter in a three-way trade from the San Diego Padres, Lucchesi is a guy who has yet to reach his full potential but seems to have some left to grasp at. The Mets didn’t acquire him purely to have a warm body within the franchise. Lucchesi has a real chance to pitch some significant innings for the Mets as soon as this season.

I never put too much stock into spring training statistics or even performances. It’s a time to experiment a little. Unless someone is getting bludgeoned, what do these practice games even mean?

If the Mets head into the regular season with Peterson and Lucchesi in the rotation, we’ll get to see each of them perform in non-exhibition action. This could give the front office a better idea of what to expect. A few innings in Florida against Triple-A players that haven’t seen real action in months does not compare to what it’s like to pitch in the big leagues.

Both pitchers have minor league options and could find themselves in the bullpen at some point in 2021. There’s no shortage of starting pitching competition on the Mets. Any job Peterson or Lucchesi win early on this year should remain unsafe.

Each has to perform well to keep his gig.

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Losing Carrasco or any other starter for a significant amount of time is a big blow. Insured against these kinds of injuries being devastating, the Mets will at least get a chance to maybe see what these two younger lefties can do if the Cookie hasn’t fully baked.

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