Mets left-hander Joey Lucchesi has been diagnosed with a complete tear of the UCL in his throwing elbow, Laura Albanese of Newsday was among those to relay (Twitter link). He’ll undergo Tommy John surgery this week. Obviously, Lucchesi is done for the rest of 2021 and will miss most or all of the 2022 campaign.
New York acquired the 28-year-old from the Padres last winter as part of the three-team deal that sent Joe Musgrove to San Diego. He made eleven appearances (eight starts) in his debut campaign with the Mets, pitching to a 4.46 ERA but posting stronger underlying numbers. Lucchesi punched out an above-average 26.1% of opposing hitters while walking only 7.0%. Those positive strikeout and walk rates contributed to a much better 3.74 SIERA, his lowest mark since his 2018 rookie campaign with the Friars (when he posted a 3.64).
Today’s news isn’t unexpected, since Lucchesi was diagnosed with a significant UCL tear yesterday. It’s nevertheless a disappointing development for a New York staff that is still without Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard as they recover from long-term injuries. The Mets have gotten very strong work from Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker this year, but David Peterson has struggled. Jerad Eickhoff, recently selected to the MLB roster, might be the favorite to assume Lucchesi’s spot in the rotation for now.
It remains to be seen whether this will mark the end of Lucchesi’s Mets tenure. New York can place him on the 60-day injured list for the remainder of the season, but players must be reinstated from the IL during the offseason. New York will have to decide whether it’s worth tendering Lucchesi a contract and carrying him on the 40-man roster all winter. He’ll eclipse three years of MLB service during his IL stint, so Lucchesi will be eligible for arbitration for the first time. If the Mets do tender him a contract with an eye toward a potential late-2022 or 2023 return, Lucchesi would be controllable through the end of the 2024 season.