A day after finally providing some run support for their ace, Jacob deGrom, and winning a weekend series against the Miami Marlins, the Mets appeared to be enjoying an upswing after an underwhelming start to their season.
But Monday brought another reminder of how quickly things can change during a Major League Baseball season being played amid a pandemic.
Starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, who had yet to play this season as he rehabilitated a left calf tear, became the second Mets player to opt out of the campaign in the last eight days, following outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Stroman is the 19th active player to opt out of the M.L.B. season.
He had been ramping up for his 2020 debut in recent days, and threw 85 pitches in a simulated game. But Stroman, 29, said he decided to step away after daily conversations with family members about what he might be exposed to during the season.
“Too many outside factors to go out there and risk it,” Stroman said in a video conference call with reporters on Monday.
Stroman, a Long Island native and 2019 All-Star, welcomed his trade to New York from Toronto at the trading deadline last summer as a homecoming, but his stay in Queens is likely to be over because he will be a free agent at the end of the season. In his 11 starts as a Met, he went 4-2 with a 3.77 E.R.A., unable to lift the team to the playoffs.
He cited family members who have compromised immune systems as his main concerns, because his mother was in regular contact with them.
When asked whether recent outbreaks among other M.L.B. teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals and the Marlins, factored into his decision, Stroman said, “I think I would be crazy to say no. I think it affects everyone. I think you definitely see what happens not only with the teams but kind of what’s going on with the world, to be honest with you. There is a bunch of risk everywhere.”
Unlike Cespedes, who left the team while on the road in Atlanta without alerting teammates or management, Stroman informed General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen of his choice at Citi Field on Monday morning. Van Wagenen, who traded two top pitching prospects — Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson — for Stroman, will now look for ways to shore up a Mets starting rotation that was already missing Noah Syndergaard, who had Tommy John surgery in the spring.
“Right now, we’ll take inventory, so to speak,” Van Wagenen said. “We were living and surviving without Marcus. He’s such a big part of who we are because of not only his talent, but also his energy.”
Without Stroman, the Mets will continue to use David Peterson, a rookie who has performed well thus far. They must address a second hole, as well, because Michael Wacha is expected to miss at least two starts because of right shoulder inflammation.
Reliever Robert Gsellman recently returned to the active roster, and Van Wagenen allowed that his mix of pitches would make him a potential starter, if needed. He last started in the 2017 season.
As for Stroman, he credited the Mets with following the protocols set up to protect players from the virus. He felt safe with the team, and also noted that he would be ready to weigh all options, whether with the Mets or elsewhere, when free agency opens.
“I’m fully healthy,” he said.