NEW YORK — Trying to make a push in the crowded NL playoff race, the New York Mets plan to skip struggling right-hander Jacob deGrom the next time through the rotation.
The team said it hadn’t decided who will start in deGrom’s place Monday night against Miami, another club in the wild-card hunt. New York manager Terry Collins rattled off several potential candidates Friday, including Sean Gilmartin, Logan Verrett, Gabriel Ynoa and Rafael Montero.
The latter three are in the minors. Rookie right-hander Seth Lugo, who earned his first major league win Thursday night at St. Louis, is scheduled to face the Marlins on Tuesday.
The 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom is 7-7 with a 2.96 ERA in 143 innings. He had been on an extended roll, lowering his ERA to 2.29, before getting rocked for 13 runs and 25 hits over 9 2/3 innings in his last two outings, against San Francisco and St. Louis.
“Of course I want to be out there, but these past few I haven’t helped the team very much, so if that’s in the best interest, then that’s the plan we just have to go with,” deGrom said. “I want to be out there, but I think this is going to help me in the long run.”
The Mets pointed out that deGrom has responded well to time off in the past and they think a brief break will help him correct a mechanical flaw they’ve discovered in his delivery.
“Falling over towards the first base side again. Arm slot’s 2 inches higher and 2 inches more toward first, so that tells me I’m falling off that way,” he said. “That makes my stuff flat in the zone. I battled it early this year; I felt like I got it right. I don’t know if I was just trying to do too much out there and started leaning back a little bit or what.”
“I think we’re going back to the drawing board and try to get it where I need it to be,” deGrom added. “I’ve been battling it all year. So, I hope this is an easy fix, but we’ll try to get it right in these next few days.”
Still, the move was somewhat surprising considering the defending NL champions already were piecing together the back end of a banged-up rotation.
Steven Matz, sidelined with tightness in his pitching shoulder, played catch Friday and is slated to throw off a mound Sunday. If all goes well, the lefty could come off the 15-day disabled list Wednesday to start against Miami.
Matt Harvey is out for the season following thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, and right-hander Robert Gsellman is scheduled to make his first major league start Sunday against the Phillies.
In other news, second baseman Neil Walker was activated from the paternity leave list and batted cleanup against Philadelphia in the opener of a 10-game homestand. Walker and his wife, Niki, welcomed a baby girl named Nora on Tuesday.
“It’s certainly amazing,” Walker said. “Supercedes any type of personal accomplishments that you ever come across. That’s very interesting when you see your kid for the first time. It’s a pretty special moment. So I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time with her as the season goes along and as the offseason goes along.”
“I was certainly sad to leave this morning,” he added. “But I’m back here ready to work, ready to get back to the grind here and push these last several weeks and start reaching our goal.”
To open a roster spot, New York optioned infielder T.J. Rivera to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Right fielder Jay Bruce was back in the lineup after missing Thursday night’s victory in St. Louis. Bruce left Wednesday night’s game with cramping in his right calf.
Collins said the Mets wanted to put Bruce through some pregame drills Friday to make sure he was healthy enough to play. Bruce struck out all four times he came to bat, drawing boos from the home crowd.