A day after making one of the most impressive rookie debuts in franchise history, Collin McHugh received his reward from the Mets: a trip back to the minors.
Because McHugh would not have pitched for another week anyway, the Mets optioned him back to Triple-A Buffalo before their 3-1 loss to the Astros on Friday, activating right-hander Jeremy Hefner from the paternity list. McHugh will make one start at Buffalo before rejoining the Mets in New York.
"As I explained to him, this has happened many times before -- other places, not just today," manager Terry Collins said. "There's no sense in having him sit here when we would have had to send somebody out to leave him here."
It was certainly not a deserved fate for McHugh, who fired seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts in his debut against the Rockies. A former 18th-round draft pick, McHugh spent five years climbing up the organizational ladder, only to have his first stint in the majors limited to one appearance.
But from a logistical standpoint, the quick demotion made sense for the Mets, who have been proceeding recently with a six-man rotation. For now, the Mets will go back to a more traditional five-man starting staff, though that will not prevent McHugh from earning another start or two in September. He is eligible to return to New York on Sept. 3, two days after rosters expand.
The rookie managed to make the most of his time in New York. He spent Thursday night celebrating in the city with his wife, parents and siblings.
"We had a fun night," McHugh said. "We went out and had a good dinner and saw some of the great city and just had a really good time."