Newsday reported that the Mets are preparing to call up top pitching prospect Jon Niese, according to a person familiar with the team's thinking.
According to the report, the Mets will tinker with their pitching rotation so they won't need a fifth starter until their Sept. 2 game at Milwaukee. Niese, who last pitched Sunday, would have one more minor league outing before making his major league debut against the Brewers.
The left-handed Niese, 21, is 5-1 with a 3.65 ERA in six starts at Triple-A New Orleans.
Mets GM Omar Minaya said he is confident the Mets can turn to young players like Niese in the midst of a playoff race, according to the report.
"I'm very comfortable with our young prospects coming here and doing it the way Argenis Reyes has done it, the way [Daniel] Murphy has done it, the way [Nick] Evans has done it. I feel comfortable internally that we'll find a way to get it done," Minaya said, according to Newsday.
They'll have to, since Maine, who was placed on the 15-day DL on Monday, is expected to be out for at least three weeks.
Maine was sidelined from July 29 to Aug. 13 and returned to the Mets knowing he'd have to pitch with the shoulder problem for the rest of the season. He didn't go more than 5 2/3 innings in his three starts and gave up eight runs on Saturday. His fastball, normally in the low-to-mid 90s (mph), rarely exceeded 89 mph.
Maine said rest helped alleviate the pain the first time he sat out and he hopes another break will allow him to pitch for the final two weeks of the season.
"We've all seen John Maine. Even without his best stuff, if I'm not mistaken he had a pretty good game in Pittsburgh," Minaya said. "But the bottom line is we cannot risk his long-term health in the midst of this pennant race, which means that guys are going to have to step up."
Other possibilities to fill in for Maine could include long reliever Brian Stokes or Robert Parnell, another of the Mets' top pitching prospects.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.