Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on me again! Haven’t I learned? Hopefully, the New York Mets have.
The bullpen/opener game has become far too common for the Mets this year. After some success with it against the St. Louis Cardinals in a doubleheader and a victory in a game versus the Arizona Diamondbacks last week, the club tried things once more in the second match against the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend. The result wasn’t as intended. Opener Drew Smith tossed a pair of shutout innings before Joey Lucchesi entered as the first reliever/long-man.
Lucchesi was able to escape the third inning unscathed. When the fourth rolled around, the Rays woke up. They scored five times in the inning with four runs credit to Lucchesi and another to Sean Reid-Foley. Mets fans have seen enough of him. Lucchesi has now allowed three earned runs or more in four of his six appearances. He has yet to throw more than 3.1 innings in any of those appearances either.
Still down a few warm bodies in the rotation, the Mets need to figure out what to do every fifth day.
Can Jordan Yamamoto play hero for the Mets?
Jordan Yamamoto came to the Mets this offseason in a low-key trade with the Miami Marlins. Young and with upside, it was certainly a deal worth making for the pitching-depth-needy New York club.
With the exception of his 2017 and 2018 minor league seasons, Yamamoto has been rather blah as a professional pitcher. Expecting anything more than serviceable outings is asking far too much. However, in times of need (which this is quickly becoming), he definitely seems like a better choice for the rotation than bullpen games or using Lucchesi after an opener.
I know it is reactionary to dismiss Lucchesi after his most recent appearance. He was good in his first attempt to relieve after an opener a week ago. Why not allow him to continue on and give it another try?
This comes back to the arguments I covered in my bullpen games vs. starting pitching depth piece from earlier last week. What good is having an arm like Yamamoto or many of the other starting pitchers in Triple-A if they go unused or only work as relievers? The Mets haven’t even tried any of them. It’s becoming increasingly frustrating to see.
In the Saturday loss, the Mets ended up using six pitchers. I know they were well-rested, but this isn’t a recipe for success. It took them three different guys just to get through the first five. Teams can occasionally win games with this strategy. You won’t always be so lucky as we saw in this most recent attempt to out-Rays the Rays.
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Yamamoto deserves a look and this latest poor result at Lucchesi should have management thinking about it. Lucchesi has been far from sharp this year. Yamamoto remains a mystery. Fans are ready to see what he can offer.