Rafael Montero to debut vs. Yankees

Updated: May 12, 2014, 11:56 PM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Right-hander Rafael Montero will become the first starting pitcher in New York Mets history to make his major league debut in the Subway Series.

Montero, 23, will replace Jenrry Mejia in the rotation beginning Wednesday, when he pitches opposite New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka at Citi Field.

[+] EnlargeRafael Montero
Adam RubinRafael Montero, one of the Mets' top pitching prospects, will make his debut Wednesday against the crosstown rival Yankees.

Montero is 4-1 with a 3.67 ERA in eight starts with Las Vegas this season. He has pitched at Citi Field before, starting for the world team in last year's Futures Game.

"The basic question that we ask ourselves every day is: What gives us the best chance to win?" Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "We understand that it's a debut on a big stage. We understand that it's unlike the debuts of other young pitchers that we've had over the last couple of years.

"I think there's some differences, though, in this situation. No. 1, Rafael has extensive experience at Triple-A now. He pitched a good portion of last season in Triple-A. He's been there again this year. He's got more experience at Triple-A than any of our other young, touted pitchers. ... We think he's ready now."

The other starting pitcher in that Futures Game last year was Mets top prospect Noah Syndergaard, but Alderson said the right-hander is not a consideration for a promotion soon.

Mejia will be dispatched to the bullpen, where he will have company from another young arm.

The Mets scratched Jacob deGrom from his scheduled start with Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday night. He officially was promoted after the Mets' 9-7 win against the Yankees to serve in a relief role, although the right-hander has served as a starting pitcher in the minors. 

Mejia won a battle with Daisuke Matsuzaka for a rotation spot out of spring training, but has struggled to provide the longevity required from a starting pitcher. In his most recent outing, he required 101 pitches to complete 4 2/3 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday. The previous start, he allowed eight fifth-inning runs against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

Opponents are hitting .193 against Mejia the first time through the batting order, .245 the second time and .405 the third time.

Mejia had a strong preference for starting and repeatedly has expressed concern that a previous Tommy John surgery was caused by unpredictable use out of the bullpen. His agents even relayed to Mets executives during spring training that Mejia would prefer to start in Triple-A over relieving in the majors.

Alderson, however, indicated Mejia will do what the club needs -- and that's work out of the big league bullpen.

"We have a need in the bullpen, we feel. And we feel he is the best resource to satisfy that need eventually," Alderson said. "I don't know exactly how he'll be used starting tonight, but we do think he has the capacity ultimately -- the potential -- to be very effective out of the pen. He hasn't always wanted to be a reliever. We certainly took that into account at the beginning of the season, but at some point his wishes and our needs have to be reconciled."

With Mejia and deGrom both due to work in relief, the Mets need to clear another roster spot beyond placing Germen on the disabled list. Veteran Joe Valverde would appear vulnerable.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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