PHILADELPHIA — Taijuan Walker received a positive diagnosis Tuesday in that he likely won’t be sidelined long term.
But in the short term, the Mets have an opening in their rotation to consider.
Walker was placed on the 10-day injured list with bursitis in his right shoulder, and before he can pitch again for the Mets will likely need a minor league rehab start, according to manager Buck Showalter. The right-hander’s spot in the rotation will fall on Sunday at Citi Field against the Diamondbacks — the Mets could skip that spot because of Thursday’s off day, but Showalter indicated his preference is to give his starters the extra rest and leave them on their current schedule.
“One of the things with the off days, I am very hesitant about pushing everybody up, because I want to give the benefit of those extra days early on with guys like Chris [Bassitt] and Max [Scherzer],” Showalter said before the Mets faced the Phillies. “It’s a long season. They are going to have a pretty good load on them, so we are going to try to keep that in play.
“Those days are built in there for a reason because there will come a time in the season when those off days won’t be there.”
David Peterson, who pitched four shutout innings in relief behind Walker, is a prime candidate to take the spot in the rotation, but Showalter said other options have been discussed with general manager Billy Eppler.
Considering the uncertainty of the situation a night earlier, when Walker departed after only two innings because of irritation in the shoulder, the Mets can view the results of the MRI exam performed on him as a win. Walker received an injection in the shoulder as part of his treatment, according to Showalter.
Walker fired two shutout innings against the Phillies in which he threw 30 pitches. He also had a shortened start in his final appearance of spring training because of right knee discomfort, leaving team officials concerned he isn’t built up enough to give the Mets length in the rotation.
The Mets were already minus Jacob deGrom, who is rehabbing from a stress reaction on his right scapula that will likely keep him sidelined into late May at the earliest. Max Scherzer was pushed back a day for his initial start last week because of hamstring discomfort.
Tylor Megill, who began spring training as rotation depth, has moved into deGrom’s spot and was scheduled Tuesday for his second start of the season. The right-hander fired five shutout innings in Washington on opening night.
Peterson, who spent most of last season on the IL, is among the pitchers in the next wave of depth. Trevor Williams, a multi-inning reliever, could also be used in a starting role if needed. The Mets also have left-hander Thomas Szapucki at Triple-A Syracuse.
“Obviously [Peterson] presented himself very well [Monday], but we have some other people,” Showalter said. “You could look at Arizona and people and kind of play match up there too if you wanted to. Pete is a good matchup, but so are some other people.”