Shaun Marcum has yet to make his season debut due to nerve inflammation in his neck, but he’s inching closer to joining the Mets’ rotation.
According to Marc Carig of New York Newsday, Marcum tossed no-hit innings this afternoon in an extended spring training game in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The veteran right-hander threw a total of 41 pitches and struck out five batters.
Mets manager Terry Collins previously said that they want Marcum to get stretched out to around 90 pitches before being activated from the disabled list, so he figures to need two more rehab outings. That means left-hander Aaron Laffey will likely stick in the rotation for the time being.
Marcum, 31, posted a 3.70 ERA and 109/41 K/BB ratio in 124 innings over 21 starts with the Brewers last season. He signed a one-year deal with the Mets this winter which includes $4 million guaranteed.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.