The Mets put Carlos Carrasco on the 15-day injured list

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Mets’ already-thin Duran absorbed another blow on Tuesday when the team placed Carlos Carrasco on the 15-day injured list with a sore right elbow.

Carrasco, who was scheduled to start Friday in San Francisco, went 0-2 with an 8.56 ERA over his first three games. His speed was noticeably underpowered in those games, and he walked as many batters (eight) as he struck.

Although Carrasco got his best start last time out in Oakland — allowing two runs in five innings — he came away with abnormal pain and swelling in his elbow, according to manager Buck Showalter. That prompted the Mets to monitor Carrasco and, eventually, fly him back to New York for an MRI. The team should know the results of that test by Wednesday.

“It was a challenge,” Showalter said.

Elbow problems are nothing new for Carrasco, who removed 18 months from surgery to remove part of the bone from the joint. Carrasco also skipped his last start in the Grapefruit League due to what Showalter called “elbow maintenance”, calling it typical of Carrasco. It is unclear to what extent Carrasco suffered from persistent discomfort in April.

In his absence, the Mets will need to dig deeper into their starting pitching depth, which was strong at the start of spring training but has since absorbed many hits. In addition to Carrasco, starters Justin Verlander (a rotator cuff strain) and José Quintana (recovering from rib surgery) are at IL. Verlander is set to return in May, and Quintana isn’t until July at the earliest. Their absence forced the Mets to make David Peterson and Taylor Miguel regular members of the rotation, as they both found success.

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The Mets also pushed Max Scherzer’s last start due to a lingering back soreness. He is scheduled to return to the mound on Wednesday.

“I try to look on the positive side,” Showalter said. “I hope tonight and tomorrow goes well.”

So who might replace Carrasco? Scherzer’s interim replacement, Jose Boto, was tapped back to Triple-A Syracuse on Monday. The Mets could have called Butto when they put Carrasco to IL, but instead chose an extra assistant, Jeff Brigham. MLB rules now prevent the Mets from calling up Butto within 10 days of his demotion, unless the team places someone else at IL.

The most obvious candidate to come out of Syracuse is 2-0 left-handed Joey Lucchesi with a 2.30 ERA in three starts with Syracuse. The team can also move forward in the bullpen if it wants to push reliever Tommy Hunter, who returns from IL in the coming days, for several innings.

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