What’s next for Jacob deGrom, Mets’ rotation as playoffs near

ATLANTA — The Mets were hoping Friday night was Jacob deGrom’s final meaningful start this regular season but remain ready to utilize him again before the playoffs if needed.

DeGrom moved ahead of Chris Bassitt in the rotation for the series opener against the Braves, according to pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, with an eye toward Wednesday against the Nationals at Citi Field. If that game matters in the NL East race, the Mets want deGrom starting.

After the Mets’ 5-2 loss to the Braves at Truist Park, in which he allowed three runs over six innings and departed with a blood blister forming on his middle finger, deGrom said if the Mets have clinched a postseason berth before Wednesday he still may pitch in the regular-season finale as a tune-up before the NLDS. If the Mets are eliminated from the NL East race before Wednesday he would skip that start to rest for the wildcard round.

“I think it speaks to the value in winning the division,” Hefner said after the loss. “If we need a win in Game 162, other than Max [Scherzer] who else would you rather have out there to win it? We’ll get more information as we get closer. The decision will become clearer.”

Jacob deGrom

Scherzer and Bassitt are scheduled to pitch Saturday and Sunday against the Braves. Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker are aligned to start against Washington on Monday and Tuesday.

As Hefner and team brass construct a postseason rotation one of the lingering questions is whether Carrasco or Walker will receive the final spot should the Mets win the division and advance directly to the NLDS.

Carrasco has scuffled in his last two starts while Walker has improved over that stretch.

“That’s certainly part of the decision: How guys are feeling. How the ball is coming out of their hand,” Hefner said. “You try not to let too much recency bias into the decision, but I think it’s definitely a part of it.”

Carrasco has pitched seven innings combined in his last two starts and allowed seven earned runs. The veteran right-hander has logged 148 innings, his highest total by far since 2018.

“We have to listen to him and his body and what we’re seeing and try to make sure that we put him in the best possible position to be successful,” Hefner said, adding that a decision hasn’t yet been reached. “They have flip-flopped a little bit. Taijuan is starting to feel a little better. He was going through kind of a lull and now he’s feeling better and we have seen 95 [mph] again. Swing and miss on the slider a few times.”