The Mets’ pitching staff has been somewhat of a mixed bag this week, with the starters not going as deep into games as we have been accustomed to during this hot stretch the rotation had been having. That said, the week still featured fantastic performances from Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler, as well as strong showings from the bullpen from Seth Lugo and Drew Smith. With rosters expanded, the Mets have also gotten contributions in relief from some new faces this week.
We’ll start with the bad news. The Jason Vargas mirage seems to have ended. His most recent outing looked a lot more like the Jason Vargas Mets fans have been unfortunately accustomed to this season, rather than the recent resurgence we had been seeing. The powerful Dodgers lineup chased him from the game early, tagging him for five runs, four of them earned on six hits in just 3 1⁄3 innings. He took the loss, dropping him to 5-9 on the year.
The horrors for the Mets’ pitching staff didn’t end with Vargas on Tuesday. The Mets’ bullpen fared okay in the middle innings, but the Dodgers unloaded for six runs in the seventh. This came mostly off Corey Oswalt, who started the seventh inning and failed to retire a batter. He surrendered four runs before being removed from the game in favor of Jacob Rhame. Ultimately, Oswalt would be charged with five runs, as Rhame allowed one of Oswalt’s baserunners to score. Oswalt’s other outing this week came yesterday when he started in Jacob deGrom’s stead, due to concerns about potential rain delays. He didn’t pitch great, but certainly fared better than he did on Tuesday. He pitched the first three innings of the game and gave up a two-run homer to the red hot Rhys Hoskins in the first inning, but nothing else. He struck out four batters.
As I alluded to above, Jacob Rhame was the other responsible party in Tuesday’s blowout loss. He allowed one of his inherited baserunners to score and also surrendered an earned run of his own. He came back out and pitched a scoreless eighth. His two innings on Tuesday were his only work for the week.
Aside from Vargas’ tumble back down to earth, the other blemish on the rotation’s record was Noah Syndergaard’s start on Saturday. He clearly did not have his best stuff and gave up four runs and—more alarmingly—twelve hits. That said, he was able to battle through poor conditions and gave his team a chance to win. Luckily, the Mets’ bats showed up to play that day and Syndergaard earned a win, his eleventh of the year. He exited the game in the seventh after being struck in the ribs with a line drive, but his pitch count was quite high at that point anyway.
Meanwhile, Zack Wheeler also earned a win this week, getting him to ten wins for the season. He tossed seven solid innings against the Dodgers, giving up three runs on three hits. All of the runs came via the home run ball; he gave up two homers—one to Cody Bellinger and one to Max Muncy. He struck out nine batters.
Seth Lugo pitched two perfect innings on Wednesday in relief of Wheeler en route to the Mets’ 7-3 win. Lugo has had a spectacular week, giving up just one run in five total innings of work. He pitched a scoreless seventh inning in relief of Jacob deGrom on Monday, working around two hits. The only run off him this week came in yesterday’s game. He tossed the final two innings of the game through the raindrops and while he did give up a towering solo shot to Carlos Santana in the ninth, he was dominant, striking out five batters. He earned the save for his effort, his second of the season.
The Mets’ bullpen was very solid as a unit yesterday, having to cobble together nine innings with deGrom being pushed back. Drew Gagnon earned the win for his two fantastic innings of work, over which he didn’t allow any hits and walked only one batter. It was a very positive first outing for Gagnon since being recalled from the minors.
Drew Smith also distinguished himself yesterday and had a great week overall. He, too, tossed two scoreless innings yesterday and earned his third hold of the season, retiring all six batters he faced in a row. Smith earned the win on Monday after throwing a scoreless eighth before the Mets took the lead in the ninth. He also threw 1 2⁄3 scoreless innings in Friday’s loss against the Phillies.
Hey, you know who didn’t get a win this week? Jacob deGrom. On Monday, he had his 25th start where he allowed three runs or fewer, breaking Doc Gooden’s record. The game remained tied at one when he exited after six innings, with deGrom having driven in the Mets’ only run. He allowed just two hits and a walk and struck out six. Unfortunately, his pitch count forced him from the game earlier than usual, but Lugo and Smith held the fort and Brandon Nimmo put the Mets ahead in the ninth. Still, it seems that everything is conspiring against deGrom this season, from the Mets’ ineptitude, to the weather pushing back his next start until tomorrow.
Robert Gsellman earned the save in the ninth on Monday after the Mets took the lead, despite giving up a run in the process. He also gave up a run over 1 1⁄3 innings of work on Saturday, but it didn’t end up mattering with the lopsided score.
Jerry Blevins also contributed three outs on Saturday, working around a walk. He earned his seventh hold of the season and continues to quietly put together a stellar second half. Saturday’s appearance was his only work for the week.
Steven Matz also didn’t go as deep into the game as he would have liked, but put forth a solid effort against the Phillies on Friday, matching up against one of the best pitchers in the National League. The only runs off Matz came from a Carlos Santana two-run homer in the third inning. Despite needing over 100 pitches to get through five innings, Matz still struck out an impressive eight batters. He got a no-decision, leaving with the game tied at two.
Tyler Bashlor gave up the eventual game-winning run in relief of Matz and took the loss on Friday. He pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning, but then gave up a solo home run to Rhys Hoskins to lead off the eighth. Bashlor also contributed 2⁄3 of an inning in Tuesday’s lopsided loss.
Eric Hanhold didn’t have a positive debut week for the Mets. He gave up a go-ahead run on two hits in Friday’s back and forth affair. He also failed to retire a batter in his appearance in yesterday’s game. He gave up a walk and a single to lead off the inning before being pulled for Drew Smith, who allowed one inherited runner to score, charged to Hanhold’s ledger.
Daniel Zamora faced just two batters this week—one on Tuesday and one on Friday—and struck them both out, continuing to build an impressive rookie campaign and being used mostly as a lefty specialist.
Paul Sewald followed Zamora on Tuesday in the sixth inning, retiring Brian Dozier on a fly out. Dozier was the only batter he faced this week.
Tim Peterson has also been recalled from the minor leagues, as rosters have expanded. He did not make an appearance this week.