The Mets announced Tuesday that they are left-handed Chasen Shreve for assignment to open a spot on the list for aces Max Scherzerwho has been reinstated from the injured list and is scheduled to start the game tonight.
Scherzer’s return comes just over six weeks after he was originally placed on the injured list due to an oblique strain. The three-time Cy Young winner, who signed a record $130 million three-year contract this offseason, pulled out of his May 18 start against the Cardinals after feeling midway through the sixth inning that the stress appeared. A subsequent MRI showed the strain. He’s made two rehab appearances with Double-A Binghamton in the past few weeks, throwing a total of eight innings at a 14-to-2 K/BB ratio during that stint.
Before he landed on the shelf, Scherzer was exactly the ace the Mets were hoping for when they signed him for the highest annual payment ever received from a player. He has made eight starts so far in 2022, going 49 2/3 innings with a 2.54 ERA with a 30.6% strikeout rate versus an excellent 5.7% walk rate. The Mets are in first place, even without contributions from Scherzer in the past week and without a single inning from co-ace and multiple Cy Young winner Jacob de Gromwho has been sidelined for the year after a stress reaction was diagnosed in his right shoulder blade.
However, with deGrom on a rehab run and Scherzer back on the active roster, the Mets are nearing the debut of the dynamic rotation they’ve anticipated as the center of what they hope to be a World Series contender. Scherzer and deGrom will be added Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker and Carlo Carrasco when the team is at its full strength. depth options Tylor Megil, David Petersen and Trevor Williams have all given ample reason to be optimistic about the pitching talent beyond that quintet, even though Megill’s numbers have dwindled over the season and he is now on the injured list himself.
As for Shreve, who turns 32 next week, he failed to build on a strong performance in 2021 with the Pirates and a solid 2020 season with the same Mets club. The veteran southpaw posted a decent 3.43 ERA in 81 1/3 innings from 2020-2021 and owns a similarly solid 3.72 mark from 2017. His 2022 season was nightmarish, however, as he went 1-in-26 for a 6th .49 ERA was marked /3 frames in his second stint with the Mets.
Shreve’s 25.4% strikeout rate is nearly identical to his career mark of 25.6%, and this year’s 8.8% walk rate is actually the lowest since his 12-inning debut with the Braves in 2014. Unfortunately for Shreve and the Mets, he was extremely homer-prone in 2022, giving up an average of 2.05 long balls per nine innings. That was a driving factor in his inability to strand runners (career-worst 62.9% in 2022).
In Shreve’s defense, his numbers through mid-June roughly matched his career totals. Still late in the season, on June 7, Shreve sported a 3.86 ERA with FIP and xFIP markings largely supporting his ERA. However, in his next five appearances, Shreve was tattooed for 10 carries for 11 hits – including three home runs – in just 5 1/3 innings. As with any emergency responder, a few rough excursions can quickly inflate your numbers, and it seems Shreve won’t get the chance to put the ship back in order with his current club.
The Mets have one week to trade Shreve, try to put him through outright waivers, or release him. He’s playing the year with a salary of $1.5 million and of that total has about $762,000 still to be paid out. As a player with more than five years of MLB service, Shreve has the right to decline the assignment in favor of free agency and still keep his salary. A new team that claims or acquires Shreve would be on the hook for the entire sum (excluding cash included in a trade by the Mets), but if he clears waivers and opts for free agency, a new one would Club only owes him the prorated amount league minimum for any time spent on the MLB roster. The Mets would stay on the hook for the remainder of his salary.