1 Mets player who could be more important than we think

New York Mets v Washington Nationals
New York Mets v Washington Nationals / G Fiume/GettyImages

Exactly where does Joey Lucchesi fit into the New York Mets depth chart in 2023? He pitched only 38.1 innings for them in 2021 before undergoing Tommy John Surgery late in the season. The lefty pitcher did manage to get into 12.2 innings on the farm last year with decent results. It’s not really enough to make any declaration about what lies ahead for him.

Lucchesi dominated in the minor leagues early in his career and managed to land with the San Diego Padres for most of the 2018 season. In the time since, he has been a slightly below-average with the hope of putting things together one day.

Now healthy again, Lucchesi is someone who can contribute to the 2023 Mets in a bigger way than expected.

How Mets pitcher Joey Lucchesi can find innings in 2023

I’ll always prefer to move an unsuccessful big league starter to the bullpen by the time he’s 30. Lucchesi will celebrate the start of his third decade on earth in June, making this season an important one for his career. He’s definitely going to be a non-tender candidate at the end of the year if he doesn’t perform well.

Before we even get to subtracting him from the roster, there are ways for him to get on the mound. Lucchesi is an obvious starting pitcher depth piece behind Tylor Megill and David Peterson. The Mets may even ask Elieser Hernandez to start over Lucchesi.

It’s going to take a couple of injuries for New York to ask Lucchesi to get them through a couple of frames. However, they do have a greater need for his left arm to be effective in relief.

Brooks Raley remains the only true big league lefty the organization has. Peterson, a fellow southpaw, could begin the year as a reliever, but his strength has been starting games. Lucchesi is a bit different. He’s older than Peterson, has been less effective, and is coming off of a major surgery. Because he’d be the eighth or ninth option to start a game for the Mets, the team could look to get some more immediate help with him coming out of the bullpen to change things up from the parade of righties.

There are certainly benefits to having as many starting pitcher options as you can get. The Mets were stable in this department last year and yet they ended up with Jose Butto making a premature start.

Lucchesi didn’t get enough innings last year to get back into the starter groove so the early part of the 2023 season will probably need to include some shorter appearances. We saw this frequently with him in 2021 when he did make his 8 starts. Unfortunately, just as he was getting his “length” back, he was injured.

Our expectations for Lucchesi this year should be mostly non-existent because of what he has done, where he is in his career, and his spot on the depth chart. He’s buried at the moment, but the absence of another lefty reliever could pave the way for some MLB appearances.

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