Mets’ fifth starter battle starting to come into focus


JUPITER, Fla. — The battle for the fifth spot in the Mets rotation narrowed Wednesday, with two candidates removed from the competition.

Jordan Yamamoto and Corey Oswalt both departed major league camp, ending their candidacies to begin the season. Yamamoto was optioned to the Triple-A roster, the team announced, and Oswalt reassigned.

The shuffling leaves Joey Lucchesi in a strong position for the rotation job, but manager Luis Rojas has also indicated he might use an opener. If the Mets go that route, left-hander Mike Montgomery, who is competing for a job on a minor league contract, could be the choice.

David Peterson has all but secured the fourth spot in the rotation, following the torn right hamstring that will place Carlos Carrasco on the injured list to begin the season. Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker will take the first three spots in the rotation.

Oswalt’s reassignment came after he pitched four innings against the Cardinals and allowed one run on two hits with three strikeouts. Yamamoto pitched in a “B” game the previous day.

Joey Lucchesi
Joey Lucchesi
Getty Images

The lefty Lucchesi is scheduled to receive another start this weekend. Montgomery has been used in multi-inning relief appearances, potentially conditioning him to pitch the first two innings of a game as the opener.

Walker threw five innings in a “B” game in Port St. Lucie. The right-hander had originally been scheduled for the Grapefruit League, but switched places with Oswalt, allowing Walker the opportunity to work on his curveball in a more informal setting.

“The last couple of starts it has been a little shaky, so I wanted to go out there and obviously get my pitch count up, I think I threw 80 pitches, five innings, but my main focus was to get that curveball going,” Walker said. “I just have to get that feeling back.”

DeGrom will start in a “B” game Friday rather than face the Nationals so close to the season opener in Washington on April 1. Peterson will start against the Nationals on Friday in deGrom’s place.

Rojas said he is still tinkering with various lineup ideas, but he is committed to Francisco Lindor in the No. 2 hole.

“Lindor batted first and third last year [with Cleveland], but talking and talking we got into second and he liked it,” Rojas said. “I think hitting behind somebody, whether it’s [Brandon] Nimmo, [Jeff] McNeil, [Luis] Guillorme, he will be OK. He told me he can bunt guys over. I said, ‘No, that’s OK.’ ”

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