Justin Verlander booed off mound, but Mets reportedly calling up 3B prospect Mark Vientos for help

New York Mets starting pitcher Justin Verlander became the avatar of all the team's issues Tuesday, when he gave up six runs in five innings of an 8-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The fans, unhappy to see their supposed ace get knocked around by the best team in baseball, booed him off the mound after he completed the fifth inning.

Verlander, who signed a two-year, $86 million deal with the Mets in the offseason, had spent most of the season on the injured list prior to last week. Shortly before first pitch on Opening Day, the 40-year-old Verlander went on the IL due to a low-grade shoulder strain, and he didn't make his first start for the Mets until May 4. He has been up and down in three starts, having thrown seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball against the Cincinnati Reds just six days before his disastrous start Tuesday.

Verlander's bad start is just the latest Mets issue that has cropped up in May. The pitching has been atrocious, with a 5.47 ERA in the past 14 days, third-worst in MLB. (On the season, Mets starting pitchers have a 5.46 ERA.) And with a .236/.297/.360 team triple slash over the past two weeks, their bats have gone silent.

Justin Verlander struggled and was booed Tuesday against the Rays. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Justin Verlander struggled and was booed Tuesday against the Rays. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Mets aren't too far gone — in the National League East, they're only five games back of the Atlanta Braves, who seemingly have no weaknesses — but they're 5-11 in May and 20-23 on the season. They have to plug the leak in the boat soon, or they'll go under before the race has really started.

Mets call up 3B prospect

With the Mets in the middle of a rough time (in just the second month of the season), they've decided to add a little help. According ESPN's Jeff Passan, they're calling up third-base prospect Mark Vientos to help jump-start their offense.

Vientos, 23, has been hitting the cover off the ball with the Triple-A Syracuse Mets this season, and he has been hitting well for longer than 38 games. In 150 Triple-A games, he has hit .294/.376/.566 with 29 doubles, 40 home runs, and 113 RBI.

Does calling up Vientos in mid-May feel like a panic move for the Mets? Absolutely. But it doesn't look like there's much more for Vientos to do in Syracuse, so they might as well call him up and see if he can help the flailing big-league team.