PHILADELPHIA — When Anthony Kay was traded out of the Mets organization, he figured that was the last he’d see of his hometown team. But in a funny twist, the left-handed reliever was claimed off waivers by the team that drafted him twice earlier this month.
Sunday, he was called up from Triple-A Syracuse. The UConn product who played high school baseball for Ward Melville on Long Island might finally get to make the debut that never came the first time around.
“This is our third try now,” Kay said Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. “I feel like we’re in a bad relationship. Hopefully, this one ends a little better than the first two tries.”
Spoken like a true Mets fan.
Kay was drafted by the Mets out of high school in the 29th round of the 2013 draft and then again in the first round three years later. He was a highly regarded prospect who got bats swinging and limited the walks. He underwent Tommy John surgery before throwing a single pitch at the professional level and excelled in the minor leagues, but he never reached the Major Leagues with the Mets.
The Mets traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2019 in a deal that saw another Long Island native, Marcus Stroman, come to Queens. Then he ended up with the Chicago Cubs this year as a teammate of Stroman’s,
“I was with him for about two months and it was good,” Kay said. “We talk about it all the time, the organization and the differences between Toronto and here and Chicago. It was good to play with him, especially since we’re both from Long Island around the same area.”
Kay is a different pitcher than when he first came to the Mets. He’s abandoned the curveball in favor of a cutter and a sweeper. He also throws a changeup that he’s been working on all season.
The Mets organization is also much different than his last time around as well.
“I can already see the improvements they’ve over the last four years and I’ve only been here for a week,” Kay said. “I’m very excited to see what they have here and see what they’re doing differently.”
Kay went 0-0 with a 6.35 ERA in 13 outings with the Cubs this season. He went 5-1 with a 3.76 ERA in 32 Triple-A outings this season between Iowa and Syracuse, including five starts. The Mets have carried only one left-hander in the bullpen for most of the season, Brooks Raley, but have used right-handers Adam Ottavino, Drew Smith and Grant Hartwig to get left-handed hitters out. It’s resulted in a heavy workload for Raley, Ottavino and Smith. The Mets want to give them a break in the final week of play.
“We’re trying to keep an eye on them,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Kay was called up to take the place of Peyton Battenfield, who was called up from Syracuse on Friday. Battenfield was optioned but without any games left in Triple-A, he was allowed to go home.
Kay is hoping his tenure in New York will be longer in order for his family and friends to finally get a chance to see him pitch in Queens.
The Mets have scrapped plans to send Starling Marte on a rehab assignment. The weather in Syracuse didn’t accommodate and they ran out of games to play. The club is considering a simulated game this week at Citi Field.
Outfielder Brandon Nimmo was given Sunday off after bruising his leg during a slide in Saturday’s loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. With Monday being the team’s final off-day of the season, taking him out of the lineup Sunday would allow for two full off days.
Jeff McNeil made his first start of the season in center field and hit leadoff in Nimmo’s place.
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