The pitching staff has been a huge factor to this season’s fast start for the Mets. The Mets’ pitching staff currently ranks second in baseball in ERA and third in strikeouts per nine innings. The bullpen in particular has been outstanding in the early going, posting a stellar 1.31 ERA from Opening Day through Sunday, and earning Bullpen of the Week honors from MLB.com.
Perhaps the biggest cog in the bullpen’s early success has been the dominance of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman. Lugo has pitched six scoreless innings so far this season, including three scoreless innings in last night’s extra-inning victory against the Nationals, earning him the win. Gsellman has also pitched six fantastic innings this season, surrendering just one run over that span, which came in last night’s game, coupled with nine strikeouts.
The Mets’ other relievers have also been great so far this season. The one exception, perhaps, has been Paul Sewald, who has only made one appearance so far this season, in which he gave up a run on three hits, also walking a batter and hitting one with a pitch. His sample is obviously small, but right now he seems like the likeliest candidate to be demoted once Jason Vargas or Anthony Swarzak return from the disabled list.
For his part, Swarzak looked solid before landing on the disabled list with an oblique strain, having surrendered just one run on a solo home run over 2 1⁄3 innings pitched, while striking out three.
Hansel Robles, who started the season at Triple A after his poor showing in spring training, was recalled when Swarzak was placed on the disabled list. He has made some early strides at redemption, looking more like the pitcher he was when he was on in 2015 and 2016. He worked on the things he was asked to work on and the early results are clear. He has generated a ton of swings and misses, striking out an impressive seven batters over three innings of work. The only blemish on his record so far is a solo home run by Bryce Harper, who tends to do that to a lot of guys.
Jeurys Familia has converted all four of his save chances, although not without making us sweat a little bit. But he has not allowed a run yet and has struck out six while walking three batters over his five appearances. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to Mickey Callaway’s approach of using him in the highest leverage situations, whether they be save situations or key spots earlier in the game than the ninth inning.
With Familia unavailable after earning the five-out save in Saturday’s game, Jacob Rhame earned his first save as a New York Met in Sunday’s game, allowing only one hit to Wilmer Difo. Last night’s gutsy performance has perhaps solidified Rhame’s spot in the bullpen moving forward. His only run allowed over his three innings of work came on a solo homer.
A.J. Ramos’ stuff has looked shaky at times, but he has been effective so far, throwing 4 1⁄3 scoreless innings this season.
Jerry Blevins has also not allowed a run yet this season, but has been dogged a little bit by the walk in the early going, surrendering three free passes over 1 2⁄3 innings. However, one could argue that his walk of Bryce Harper in Saturday’s game was more of a pitch around than anything else.
Overall, the Mets’ starting rotation has been very solid, but has struggled to go deep into games so far this season. Jacob deGrom has been Jacob deGrom—the most solid presence on the staff—first among Mets’ pitchers in innings pitched and fWAR so far this season, pitching to a 1.54 ERA over his two starts and battling at times when he did not have his best stuff.
Both Steven Matz and Matt Harvey had one good performance and one bad performance in their two starts. Matz struggled against the Cardinals in the Mets’ only loss of the season, giving up three runs and fighting just to make it to four innings. But he bounced back against the Nationals in Saturday’s start, striking out eight batters over five innings and allowing only one run on three hits with two walks. Matt Harvey’s early season has taken somewhat of the opposite arc. His first start was very impressive; he pitched five scoreless innings against the Phillies, walking only one and striking out five. Despite having somewhat reduced velocity on his fastball—perhaps due to the cold weather—Harvey was still very effective. That approach was not as effective against the Nationals in last night’s contest, however. Harvey was knocked around a bit, tagged for four runs over five innings with lots of hard contact being generated against him.
Noah Syndergaard’s stuff is as blazing as ever—he has a 15.39 strikeout rate per nine innings so far this season—but he especially is struggling to stay economical with his pitch count, going just 10 innings over his two starts. He has only walked two batters, but batters are fouling off his fastball frequently, making for a lot of deep counts and long at-bats. However, the Mets have won both games he has pitched.
Given all the days off early in the season, the Mets have not needed to use a fifth starter yet, but Zack Wheeler has earned the start on Wednesday with his strong performance in Triple A so far and Jason Vargas should soon return to the Mets’ rotation after being sidelined for the first couple of turns.