Mets place pitcher Joey Lucchesi on IL in surprising move

The Mets’ starting rotation issues grew worse Saturday.

Already without much depth, they lost improving southpaw Joey Lucchesi to the injured list after their 5-1 win over the Nationals in Game 1 of a doubleheader. The Mets activated outfielder Albert Almora Jr. to take his place on the roster.

Lucchesi, who has pitched well of late after a slow start, was shelved because of left elbow inflammation after throwing 5¹/₃ shutout innings Friday night in a 1-0 loss. He is 1-4 with a 4.46 ERA over 38 ¹/₃ innings this season.

The Mets are still not sure who will pitch Monday’s doubleheader against the Braves. Jacob deGrom, who has been lifted early from his previous two starts because of minor health ailments, said Saturday he planned to take the ball in one of the games as long as he continues to feel good physically, but the Mets are taking a day-to-day approach with their ace. He only lasted three innings in his most recent start, on Wednesday, due to right shoulder soreness.

Joey Lucchesi
Corey Sipkin

Making matters worse, the Mets are in the midst of playing 16 games in 13 days against NL East foes, including doubleheaders Saturday, Monday and Friday. Reliever Robert Gsellman started Game 2 on Saturday against Washington.

The Mets could go with Gsellman, who was once a starter, in Lucchesi’s spot moving forward. Other options include prospect Thomas Szapucki and veteran Jerad Eickhoff. Neither, however, has pitched well for Triple-A Syracuse.

Carlos Carrasco, who came to the Mets in the Francisco Lindor trade with the Indians, has yet to pitch this year because of a torn hamstring. He is throwing, but a return for the right-hander is not believed to be close.

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