LAKELAND, Fla. — Michael Wacha’s two scoreless innings Tuesday were a nice way to start his Mets career, but it’s the 94-96 mph he consistently flashed that resonated loudest.
The Mets had no reason to believe the scoreboard at Publix Field was misleading them. And Wacha’s amped velocity — he averaged 93.4 mph with his fastball last year with the Cardinals, according to Fangraphs — translated into effectiveness with his off-speed pitches.
“The ball felt like it was coming out good,” Wacha said on a day the Mets lost 9-6 to the Tigers. “It felt like the other pitches were playing off that fastball command and overall I thought it went well.”
The right-hander, who is competing for a rotation job, perhaps even on a part-time basis — The Post’s Joel Sherman reported the Mets are considering the idea of rotating Wacha and Steven Matz in the spot, depending on the opponent — allowed one hit and struck out two with two walks.
Wacha said he was unaware of any potential plan that involves utilizing him from the bullpen.
“They told me I am a starter, so that is what I am here for,” he said.
He added: “They haven’t mentioned anything to me like that. My focus right now is going out here today and doing what I can and competing and then control those five days in between my next start and get those mechanics where I need them to be. Make those adjustments that I wish I would have made out there going into this next one, but I just try not to worry too much about what others are saying.”
Earlier in the day, Matz told The Post he also was unaware of any such plan to potentially share a rotation spot with Wacha.
“I haven’t heard it yet, so I am not going to comment on it,” Matz said. “Until they tell me that, then I guess I will form an opinion on it.
“I asked them the other day in the meeting, ‘Am I possibly going to be a reliever?’ They said, ‘Right now you’re a starter. We have got six starters, this is what we have got and we’ll go from there.’ ”
Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello are the Mets’ other experienced starting pitchers. Wacha arrived on a one-year deal that guarantees him $3 million, but with incentives that could reach $10 million. Last year he went 6-7 with a 4.76 ERA in 29 appearances for the Cardinals, which included five outings in relief.
“We have a lot of starters in camp and we have the luxury of having guys that have experience starting, but there’s no roles defined, it’s so early,” manager Luis Rojas said. “We are watching the guys progress. The roles will be defined by the end of the spring probably, but we’re not there. We’re happy with Wacha’s start today, I will tell you that, but we are progressing the guys. We are watching them perform in spring training.”
Wacha even showed off his athleticism, racing into third-base foul territory to catch Jeimer Candelario’s pop-up in the first inning after J.D. Davis lost the ball in the sun.
“I liked his velo today,” Rojas said. “I liked the plane on his fastball and touch on his changeup. He threw some cutters as well and fielding his position.
“It looked like he was creating some contrast with his changeup, so when you get velo you get swings and misses with your changeup like he did and I think he was pretty firm and had a good angle at the plate.”