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Mets Gear Up For Debut Of Three Integral Pitchers

We’re now a week into March, almost 2 weeks since Spring Training games started, and there are three Mets pitchers we haven’t seen yet who should play key roles in the team’s story this year: Joey Lucchesi, Shintaro Fujinami, and Edwin Diaz.

If you’ve been following the Mets then by now you certainly know that projected ace Kodai Senga will start the season on the injured list and will likely not throw his first pitch of the regular season until late April or early May. When the Mets announced his injury, it was immediately assumed that Tylor Megill, Joey Lucchesi, and Jose Butto would challenge for Senga’s open spot. While Megill and Butto have already made multiple appearances, all with impressive results, Lucchesi hasn’t even faced a batter. That was supposed to change on Wednesday, however the game against the Astros was cancelled (they don’t postpone Spring Training games) due to rain, so he’ll have to wait a little bit longer.

Last year, Lucchesi had a true “up and down” season for the Mets. After starting the season in Syracuse, he was called up in late April and won his first 2 starts of the season, pitching to a 2.23 ERA in 12.1 innings with 12 K’s and 4 walks. Things turned bad rather quickly for Lucchesi with three rough starts and a 7.40 ERA in early May. So, as things went south for Lucchesi, he went north to Syracuse. Things didn’t go much better for him in Central New York, where he started 16 games and had a 4.42 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP, and also suffered a knee injury.

In mid-August, the Mets recalled Lucchesi for a spot start against the St. Louis Cardinal and he was impressive, throwing 5 2/3 shutout innings in a 7-1 win. Following the game, he was optioned back Syracuse where he stayed until mid-September. Lucchesi started three games after his September call-up and pitched well in all of them. He had a 1.93 ERA for the month and ended the year with a 4-0 record and a 2.89 ERA.

This year, Lucchesi showed up to camp having dropped almost 20 pounds and has set his sights on being a mainstay in the Mets ever-shifting starting rotation. After Wednesday’s rainout, it isn’t clear yet when Lucchesi will make his 2024 spring debut.

Shintaro Fujinami took a very different route to Port St. Lucie this year. Fujinami’s career began in Japan where he was the #1 draft pick out of high school in 2013. After steady success for Hanshin Tigers for a decade, Fujinami made the move to the United States to see how his 100+ MPH fastball would play here. He signed a one-year deal with the Oakland A’s last January and made their starting rotation out of Spring Training. As a starter he had an 0-4 record with a 14.40 ERA, and he was moved to their bullpen, where he didn’t fare much better. In July, the A’s traded him (and his 8.57 ERA) to the Baltimore Orioles where he immediately went to work in the bullpen. While far from perfect, he was much improved in Baltimore where he had a 2-0 record, a 4.85 ERA, and even 2 saves. The Mets signed him in February in hopes they could corral his command, make the most out of his electric arm, and strengthen their late-inning relief corps. An issue with his work visa, and some family matters that required his attention delayed his ramp-up period. He now appears ready to make his debut and will likely pitch for the Mets in Thursday night’s game against the Nationals.

Closer Edwin Diaz may be the most anticipated Mets hurler we have yet to see this spring. After pitching one of the best seasons in team history in 2022, Diaz missed all of 2023 with after suffering a torn patellar tendon injury to his right knee while celebrating a Puerto Rico victory in the World Baseball Classic (after striking out the side). While there have been videos of Diaz pitching posted on social media, he is still likely a few days away from making his Spring Training games debut. Still, in one of the videos, after seeing one of his pitches during a simulated game at-bat, first baseman Pete Alonso uttered, “Same guy.” No doubt, this was music to Mets fans’ ears.

The Mets pitching in 2024 will no doubt be a key storyline, especially given the many new faces and the recent injury to Kodai Senga. Joey Lucchesi, Shintaro Fujinami, and Edwin Diaz, will all have the opportunity to make a significant impact on the team’s success. As they make their 2024 debuts in the coming days, the team’s plans should start to become clearer.

Shai Kushner
Shai Kushnerhttps://mlbreport.com/
Shai Kushner, is a seasoned sports journalist and versatile professional deeply embedded in the world of baseball. Since 2014, Shai has been a trusted voice covering the New York Mets for BaseballDigest.com and GothamBaseball.com. Before his journalism career, he served as a video engineer for the Mets Baseball Operations department.


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