Drew Smith’s return presents Mets with tough roster decision

MILWAUKEE — Drew Smith’s expected return from the injured list on Tuesday has the Mets facing a potentially tough roster question. 

“How would you make room for him?” manager Buck Showalter asked rhetorically before the Mets faced the Brewers. 

Barring an IL stint for a pitcher, the Mets will likely have to choose between optioning David Peterson to Triple-A Syracuse and designating veteran Tommy Hunter for assignment. The Mets optioned relievers Stephen Nogosek and Alex Claudio to Syracuse before Monday’s 7-2 win to clear roster space for Max Scherzer and Tylor Megill. 

Scherzer pitched six perfect innings and struck out nine in his return from the IL. 

Peterson pitched 2 ¹/₃ innings in relief on Saturday as he auditions for a potential second left-hander’s role in the bullpen heading to the postseason. Hunter has appeared mostly in low-leverage relief roles this season and pitched to a 2.42 ERA. 

“We have got some health things we are going to look at and who is going to be healthy,” Showalter said, noting that reliever Mychal Givens (COVID-restricted list) will return from the IL before the season concludes. 

Drew Smith
Drew Smith’s return presents the Mets a tough decision.
Robert Sabo for the NY POST

Smith will be returning from a lat strain that has kept him sidelined since late July. 

“Drew was one of our better relief pitchers,” Showalter said. “We’ll see if he can regain that form.” 

Showalter said it was still under discussion on how Megill would be utilized from the bullpen. The right-hander struggled in his final two rehab appearances for Syracuse, but Showalter indicated it wasn’t a cause for concern. 

“I think the biggest concern was health,” Showalter said before Megill pitched an inning and gave up two runs on two hits while striking out one against the Brewers on Monday. 

The Mets entered play with a .597 road winning percentage this season, which ranked third in franchise history. Only the 1986 and ’69 teams (.654 and .600, respectively) own better road winning percentages. Both those teams won the World Series. The Mets haven’t reached 45 road victories since 2007. They were within one win of matching that total as Monday’s play began. 

Mark Canha (0-for-3) entered play with 21 hit by pitches, one short of the franchise record set by Brandon Nimmo (1-for-4) in 2018. Overall, the Mets were within three hit by pitches of the Reds’ modern-day record of 105 set in 2021. 

The Mets are on track to have baseball’s highest payroll for the first time since 1989, among a record-tying six teams set to pay a penalty for spending. 

The Dodgers, who started the season as the top spender, fell into second due to Trevor Bauer’s suspension. 

The Mets entered the last full month of the season with a $273.9 million payroll, according to updated figures through Aug. 31 compiled by Major League Baseball. 

The Dodgers are second at $267.2 million, followed by the Yankees at $254.4 million.

— With AP