Mets turn to Christian Scott in the rotation, José Buttó could follow in bullpen

WASHINGTON — The New York Mets preferred to give Reed Garrett a break Monday night. They should’ve been able to do that; they held a six-run lead going into the bottom of the 10th inning. Instead, Garrett warmed up twice — once during the ninth inning — and made yet another appearance, allowing one hit but recording the final out in a 9-7 win over the Washington Nationals.

Manager Carlos Mendoza had no choice but to lean on Garrett, who has pitched in five games since June 23, the day Edwin Díaz got ejected for sticky stuff. That’s tied with a few other relievers for the most appearances over that span. Garrett has essentially filled in as the closer with Díaz serving a 10-game suspension (there are four more games to go). But they can only keep going to him so many times — especially four games into a stretch of 17 straight. Keep in mind, this is a breakthrough year for Garrett, 31, who has never before been used in the majors on a steady basis.

“I’m still learning,” Garrett said when asked if he’s done anything differently over the recent stretch to maintain his readiness. “This is the longest stretch that I’ve had in the big leagues. I’m just doing the best I can to learn on the go. It’s kind of individual. For me, I feel like I have a pretty good process of how to stay ready and stay healthy.”

The problem for the Mets is that their bullpen drama just doesn’t end. Not even on a night when starter David Peterson gave them a solid performance with just two runs allowed over 6 1/3 innings. Not even on a night when the lineup continued to demonstrate it deserves some help.

For the second straight game, one of the Mets’ freshly added relievers from Triple A struggled to record outs in extra innings. They didn’t get away with it Sunday when Matt Festa allowed five runs. But they did get away with it Monday night when Tyler Jay allowed four runs. It’s not easy pitching with a runner starting an inning on second base, and it’s unfair to place a lot of blame on Festa and Jay. That’s not what this is about. The Mets are down a pitcher because of Díaz’s suspension and hurting from a few key injuries. Still, they need to position themselves better to sustain the loss of Díaz and improve the number of quality options available.

The situation begs for change — even if a possible solution involves something else that wouldn’t necessarily be high on their list of preferred things to do.

The Mets have already made a notable switch and could make another. They optioned Tylor Megill to the minor leagues for a reliever, and Mendoza announced top prospect Christian Scott would be recalled to start Wednesday (a path The Athletic suggested the club would take). Despite toggling Scott’s innings in Triple A, Mendoza said he was “full-go.” The move gave the Mets a fresh reliever and inserted a capable starter in the rotation in Scott. Now it’s just a question of what they’ll do with José Buttó.

Mendoza said the club was open to using Buttó as a multi-inning reliever. It may not be their first choice, given how well Buttó has pitched as a starter (3.08 ERA in seven starts with the Mets; 3.05 ERA in eight starts with Triple-A Syracuse). Unless — or until? — the Mets acquire external help, it may be the best choice remaining.

There just aren’t many others, with the bullpen in a bind. In Mendoza’s words, the Mets have been running Garrett pretty hard.  They’ve leaned on Dedniel Núñez for multiple innings over much of his outings. They keep going to lefty Jake Diekman. They need someone else to step up. The Mets have others they may consider in Triple A like Josh Walker and Eric Orze. But Buttó has the best track record (though as a starter).

Using Buttó as a reliever wouldn’t be ideal. Generally speaking, most clubs would prefer to have a talented, young starting pitcher stretched out as such. He also deserves an opportunity as a starter after pitching well since late last year. But this isn’t an ideal situation, and the Mets may be able to afford the hit to their starting depth for the time being.

They have their current starting five, plus Megill in Triple A, and Kodai Senga (triceps, shoulder) set to make his first rehab appearance Wednesday with High-A Brooklyn. The compromise could be Buttó helping in some kind of multi-inning capacity, though even that has pitfalls because he would only be able to do that so many times in a week, which raises the question of how worth it the experiment would be.

“You always want to keep your depth, especially when we’re talking about starters, but where we’re at bullpen-wise, these are some of the conversations we’re having,” Mendoza said. “He’s definitely an option if we need him to come up here and help out of the bullpen.”

(Photo: Francisco Alvarez and Reed Garrett: Jess Rapfogel / Getty Images)

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