SAN DIEGO — Joey Lucchesi is attempting to show the Mets he’s part of the solution and not part of the problem.
After a rocky start to the season, the left-hander has given the team three straight solid performances, at least bandaging an open wound at the back end of the rotation.
In his longest outing of the season Friday, the left-hander allowed one earned run over 4 ²/₃ innings against the Padres. Over his past three starts he has pitched to a 1.42 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 12 ¹/₃ innings.
“I have changed my mental aspect of the game,” Lucchesi said before the Mets’ 4-0 win over the Padres Saturday night. “My numbers were really bad, and it’s hard to ignore that, some people get caught in that, but I just tell myself to focus on this game, one at a time, super simplifying everything, like literally each pitch is a new pitch, reset, and that is just the way I am going about everything. I think it’s helping a lot. In between starts, I feel like I am learning and getting better.”
The Mets, who topped the Padres 4-0 late Saturday in San Diego, have few other options. Carlos Carrasco is still weeks away in his rehab from a torn right hamstring. And Noah Syndergaard has been shut down from throwing until at least early July, after incurring elbow discomfort in his minor league rehab from Tommy John surgery. Another depth piece the Mets acquired in the offseason, Jordan Yamamoto, was placed on the 60-day injured list just over a week ago with shoulder soreness.
That leaves David Peterson and Lucchesi in important roles. Peterson has struggled, pitching to a 5.89 ERA, but Lucchesi, in smaller doses (he hasn’t been permitted to work the third time through the batting order), is now thriving.
An uptick in velocity — Lucchesi touched 94 mph in his most recent start — has helped, according to manager Luis Rojas. This season, Lucchesi is averaging 91.2 mph overall with his fastball, according to Statcast.
“The fastball velo is going to help him,” Rojas said “That is something he struggled with last year. His velo was a little down [89.9 mph], and he was trapped. But the last few outings, we have seen his velo [be] more consistent, steadier, and he’s had a chance to survive a couple of times through the lineup.”
Lucchesi has added a cutter and straight changeup to his mix after relying primarily on his fastball and churve (a combination changeup and curveball).
“I feel like I’m heading where I need to be,” Lucchesi said.