Mets turn to Julio Teheran with starting pitching in a bind

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With two starting pitchers on the injured list, the New York Mets added a veteran free agent to help.

The Mets agreed Wednesday to a major-league deal with veteran Julio Teheran, a league source confirmed. The New York Post first reported the agreement, which is worth $2.5 million, per league sources.

Teheran, 33, is ready to pitch whenever the Mets want to insert him into their rotation, multiple people briefed on the situation said. That could be when the Mets need a fifth starter in Atlanta during a four-game series — or sooner.

The Mets needed a reinforcement. New York opened the season without No. 1 pitcher Kodai Senga, who just resumed throwing last week. Then Tylor Megill, Senga’s replacement, landed on the 15-day injured list on Monday with a right shoulder strain. Also, David Peterson (hip) and Max Kranick (hamstring), two depth starters on the 40-man roster, remain on the injured list.

The Mets are scheduled to play 15 games in 14 days starting with a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. Club officials had already circled this stretch as a likely time to insert a sixth starter.

It made sense for the Mets to add Teheran because of the pickle they were in after Megill’s injury. They called up reliever Reed Garrett to replace Megill, needing bullpen coverage, especially after Yohan Ramírez’s suspension. Unless there’s another injury, a pitcher on the 40-man cannot come up to the majors until April 12 (the rule is different for position players). With a doubleheader, however, teams are permitted to call up such a pitcher as an extra player on their roster, so someone like Jose Buttó would be a candidate to start one of the games (the Mets have announced only one of the starters, Adrian Houser, who will pitch the first game on Thursday).

The Mets eyed Teheran in spring training, too, but he instead signed with the Baltimore Orioles. Teheran opted out of his deal with the Orioles on March 23. In 13 1/3 innings in spring training, he logged a 3.38 ERA.

Teheran’s relationship with the Mets’ front office stretches back to last year when he pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers. At the time, Eduardo Brizuela, Mets vice president and special assistant to president of baseball operations David Stearns, was part of Milwaukee’s inner circle of decision-makers. Teheran was an example of something the Brewers did quite well with Stearns, Brizuela and Matt Arnold, who remains the GM in Milwaukee: find helpful depth players on the margins. Success in that area requires alignment with different parts of the front office, good scouting, good preparation, good relationships and some luck.

With Milwaukee, Teheran posted a 4.40 ERA in 71 2/3 innings (14 games, 11 starts). However, he faded in the second half. Before the All-Star break, he had a 3.64 ERA (47 innings) compared to a 5.84 ERA (24 2/3 innings) after it.

Teheran did not pitch in the major leagues in 2022. He spent nine of his 12 years in Atlanta, where he was a two-time All-Star — and a Mets nemesis. In 175 career innings against the Mets, he has a 3.24 ERA. And that figure includes last season, when the Mets roughed him up for seven runs in 5 2/3 innings on June 27.

They’re hoping he helps them out at least a little bit these days.

(Photo of Julio Teheran: Kim Klement Neitzel / USA Today)

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