Let’s start with the good news this week. Mets pitchers—particularly the starting rotation—had a heck of a week. Over the five games the Mets played this week, the pitching staff allowed just ten earned runs, while striking out 42 batters in 45 innings pitched. Other than Jason Vargas, who only gave the Mets five innings in his solid start, the entire rotation put up a quality start this week. However, a lack of run support on the part of the offense meant that the Mets won just one of those five games.
Seth Lugo was the only Mets pitcher to earn a win this week for his efforts and one could argue that there was no one more deserving. He shut down one of the most powerful offenses in the game for six innings, striking out eight Yankees and needing just 84 pitches to do it. He gave up just two hits. Not only that, Lugo tossed three scoreless innings in relief of Jason Vargas on Tuesday against the Orioles, allowing just one hit and keeping the Mets within striking distance. He is making a strong case to remain in the starting rotation.
Jason Vargas took the loss on Tuesday, but put together a very solid start, giving up two runs in the first inning, but settling down after that, scattering six hits over five total innings of work. His ERA on the year remains ugly at 7.71, but is trending down, after putting forth a solid effort for two consecutive starts for the first time all season. However, given the off day today, the Mets are opting to skip Vargas for the two game series against the Braves. Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom will pitch Tuesday and Wednesday.
Zack Wheeler blanked the Orioles for seven innings on Wednesday, allowing just three hits and walking one batter, as he continues to show improvement. Despite Wheeler matching zeros with Dylan Bundy all afternoon, the Mets lost the game 1-0, the winning run coming off Jeurys Familia in the eighth. Familia allowed two hits and a long sacrifice fly to plate the Orioles’ only run. Familia was subsequently placed on the disabled list with shoulder soreness, but continues to rehab in Port St. Lucie and is eyeing a return sometime during the Mets’ upcoming road trip.
Jacob deGrom, as usual, was brilliant in his start on Friday night, going eight innings against the Yankees and allowing three runs, only two of them earned, and striking out eight. He allowed just four hits, but unfortunately one of those was the decisive two-run homer off the bat of Brett Gardner in the eighth with two out that broke the 1-1 tie. Once again, the offense was unable to pick deGrom up and he suffered the loss, despite his strong effort.
Paul Sewald pitched the ninth on Friday in relief of deGrom—his only inning of work this week—and gave up a solo home run to Giancarlo Stanton, putting the game further out of reach. However, Sewald is far from the first pitcher to be victimized by Stanton.
A combination of days off, length from the starting pitching, and the Mets playing in close games all week meant the back end of the Mets bullpen in Hansel Robles, Jacob Rhame (recalled from Triple-A on Friday), and Tim Peterson did not see any work this week.
The Mets bullpen got a key member back in Anthony Swarzak, who returned from the disabled list this week. In his very first appearance back from the disabled list, Swarzak was tasked with pitching the eighth inning in a tie game against the Yankees on Saturday. He surrendered a game-winning home run to Aaron Judge. Swarzak was able to bounce back last night, pitching a scoreless ninth to shut the door and earn his first save of the season.
Steven Matz started the game on Saturday and was solid, allowing three runs—all the result of the long ball—over six innings and leaving the game with the score tied. He also struck out six batters. Given the prowess of the Yankees’ lineup, this performance was another notch in Matz’s ever-improving belt this season.
Robert Gsellman, whose role in the bullpen is more important than ever with Familia temporarily sidelined, had a clean slate in relief this week. Gsellman pitched a scoreless seventh in Satruday’s game in relief of Matz, keeping the game tied at three. He also gave the Mets two scoreless innings of relief in last night’s win against the Yankees, working around a single and an error by Jose Reyes to get two king sized outs with the winning run on base.
Jerry Blevins is also unscored upon this week. He kept the Mets within one by tossing a scoreless ninth in Saturday’s game in the aftermath of Judge’s go-ahead knock. Mickey Callaway seems to be turning to Blevins to pitch full innings more frequently of late and hopefully he can put together a string of success, after struggling so mightily for most of this season.