Pitching-weary Mets, Brewers meet with hopes of mound turnarounds

Field Level Media

April 25, 2019 at 11:48 pm.

The New York Mets chose to find a solution to their starting pitching problems from within instead of signing Gio Gonzalez this week.

They might get a chance to find out what they did – or didn’t – miss out on as early as this weekend, when the Mets host Gonzalez’ new team, the Milwaukee Brewers, in a three-game series.

The series is scheduled to get underway Friday, when reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom (2-2, 3.68 ERA) is expected to come off the injured list and start for the Mets against Chase Anderson (2-0, 3.00 ERA). However, there are heavy thunderstorms in the forecast for Friday afternoon and evening in New York City.

Both teams were off Thursday after losing Wednesday. The host Mets missed a chance to complete a sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies by falling to their NL East rivals, 6-0. The visiting Brewers absorbed the final defeat in a three-game sweep at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 5-2 loss.

Prior to Wednesday’s games, the Brewers reportedly reached agreement with Gonzalez on a one-year deal worth $2 million plus incentives. Gonzalez finished last season with Milwaukee, for whom he went 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in five starts following his acquisition from the Washington Nationals, but remained unsigned well into spring training before agreeing to a minor league deal with the New York Yankees.

Gonzalez exercised the opt-out in his clause last Saturday and was released by the Yankees on Monday. Many believed he’d head to the Mets, whose rotation is pitching to a 4.97 ERA with a fifth starter, Jason Vargas, who has the third-worst ERA (5.97) among pitchers with at least 20 starts since 2018. But Gonzalez ended up with the Brewers, whose starters will enter Friday with an ERA of 5.84.

Gonzalez isn’t slotted into the rotation yet, but he could be used in relief as he begins to knock off the rust. He last pitched on April 14 for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Whenever Gonzalez slides into the rotation, the Brewers will hope he can pick up where he left off last season for them and offer his usual reliability. Gonzalez made 27 starts last year making it the 10th straight year with 27-plus starts, the fourth-longest streak among pitchers.

“He pitched good for us last year,” said Brewers Opening Day pitcher Jhoulys Chacin, who has a 6.35 ERA in six starts this season. “Whoever can help us to get going. We haven’t pitched deep in games, we haven’t put the team in good position to win the ballgame every (day). That’s something we have to start to do. To get a team out of a slump, it starts with your starters.”

If deGrom comes off the injured list – he got through his throwing program fine on Monday and Wednesday – manager Mickey Callaway will hope he can follow in the footsteps of Vargas, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, who combined to allow just two runs over 17 2/3 innings in the three-game series against the Phillies. Vargas took the loss Wednesday after surrendering one run in 4 2/3 innings.

“I think all of our starting pitching stepped up this series,” Callaway said Wednesday night. “We took the series because our starting pitching stepped it up and I think that kind of sets the tone for turning the corner and getting where we need to be, as far as what we’re trying to do on the mound. Just another solid effort from a starter for the third day in a row.”

Anderson earned the win in his first start of the season last Saturday when he allowed just one hit over five scoreless innings as the Brewers beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-0.

DeGrom hasn’t started since April 14, when he took the loss after allowing three runs over five innings as the Mets fell to the Atlanta Braves, 7-3. The 30-year-old came down with strep throat a few days later and felt soreness in his elbow while trying to resume his throwing program. He blamed the soreness on the full-body aches he had from the illness and the subsequent layoff. An MRI administered Monday came back clean.

Anderson is 2-2 with a 3.94 ERA in six career starts against the Mets. DeGrom is 3-2 with a 4.17 ERA in seven starts against the Brewers.