Steven Matz returned to the Mets on Sunday — and to the Mets’ bullpen.
He’ll be joined there by Michael Wacha, who’s being skipped at least one start thanks to Monday’s off day.
Manager Luis Rojas announced prior to the series finale against the Blue Jays in Buffalo that Rick Porcello would start Tuesday against the Phillies in Philadelphia, followed by Jacob deGrom Wednesday and Seth Lugo Thursday.
That leaves Matz and Wacha coming out of the bullpen.
Matz spent the last two weeks rehabbing from left shoulder bursitis and Rojas said he’s stretched out to about 60 pitches to provide length.
Wacha has been dreadful in his previous five starts. Since opening the abbreviated season with a solid outing, the right-hander has pitched to a 9.00 ERA (19 earned runs in 19 innings).
Rojas left open the possibility of using an opener, rather than a fifth starter, when the spot comes up again Saturday against the Braves.
“We talked about different strategies,’’ Rojas said. “We’ve been open to having an opener. We need to get there. Our focus is today. We’ll see how things keep moving and we can have an idea of what we’re going to do after Lugo’s start.”
Rojas added that Wacha was OK with the move to the pen — as have other pitchers who are accustomed to starting, like Matz.
“These guys, I know we’re talking about Wacha, but they’ve all been good with these conversations and how we’re gonna use them,” Rojas said. “This season is definitely different with the 60 games and the 14 games we have left, the guys want to get in there and help the team win games.”
With Matz and Wacha in the bullpen, Rojas said he would be more willing to go to the pen more aggressively if he had to.
The Mets would like to avoid that and are hoping Porcello bounces back from his last start, when he allowed five runs on 10 hits in just four innings against Baltimore.
Prior to that outing, the right-hander pitched effectively versus the Phillies at Citi Field, when he gave up two runs over six innings.
“He’s thrown the ball well against them,’’ Rojas said. “We like how he matches up versus them with his blend of pitches. We trust giving him the ball on Tuesday.”