Mets won’t name fifth starter until just before Opening Day

Aug 1, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Joey Lucchesi (37) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets have two top starters currently on the shelf. Noah Syndergaard is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery performed about a year ago, while Carlos Carrasco recently tore his hamstring and is expected to be out at least for several weeks.

The Mets, however, addressed pitching heavily during the offseason. Carrasco himself was a trade acquisition, and the team also signed Taijuan Walker, Jerad Eickhoff, Jordan Yamamoto, traded for Joey Lucchesi, and extended a qualifying offer to Marcus Stroman, which he accepted.

Jacob deGrom, Stroman, Walker, and David Peterson are expected to be the top four options in the rotation. However, Lucchesi and Yamamoto are fighting for that fifth and last rotation spot.

The Grapefruit League doesn’t have enough innings for the two men (and the rest of the Mets’ staff) so Yamamoto pitched a simulated game Tuesday at their Port St. Lucie, Fla. complex. He covered five innings as manager Luis Rojas looked on, according to Anthony DiComo of

On Monday, Lucchesi pitched better than his final line suggested: he conceded three runs over 3 1/3 innings of a Grapefruit League game against the Astros.

Mets’ manager Luis Rojas is still evaluating the candidates

When the media asked the Mets’ skipper to compare the two hurlers, Rojas noted that “it’s tough still right now for us to make that decision,” and explained that a final decision isn’t expected until just before Opening Day.

“I’m learning [about] Lucchesi more,” the manager said. “I like how he controlled the running game [Monday]. He was changing speeds well. His fastball’s got the zip, something he didn’t have last year. … The pitch-type repertoire from Yamamoto is deeper. He’s got a lot of pitches on the menu — different than Lucchesi, who’s got only like three pitches. So they’re two different pitchers. Both strike-throwers. Both control the running game well. I think Lucchesi’s got more experience starting games.”

Yamamoto has a 1.08 ERA in 8.1 spring innings, while Lucchesi’s mark is 3.24 in the same number of frames.