Despite the fact that Jacob deGrom was the only member of the rotation to provide a quality start this week, the Mets managed to post a record over .500 for the week, thanks in part to the offense and in part to the bullpen, whose bad performances were isolated to a couple of games and just a few pitchers.
We’ll start with Mr. Fireball himself since he was the brightest spot among the pitching staff this week. In Friday night’s start against the Nationals—likely his penultimate start of the season—Jacob deGrom threw seven innings and allowed one run on three hits. He walked one batter and struck out eight. His only hiccup came in the second inning when he lost his command briefly and issued a leadoff walk to Anthony Rendon, who would come around to score on a single and a sacrifice fly. But deGrom was nearly flawless after that, shutting down the Nationals for the rest of the outing. For once, the Mets gave him some run support and he got the win to even his record at 9-9 for the season.
The bullpen didn’t blow the game in relief of deGrom either! Thanks to a base running blunder on the part of the Nationals, Seth Lugo benefitted from a lucky double play en route to a scoreless eighth inning. Lugo also contributed 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings in Thursday’s extra inning victory. He earned a hold in each outing, bringing his total up to eleven holds for the season.
Robert Gsellman gave up a run on two hits, but was still able to complete the ninth inning with the lead in tact to earn his twelfth save of the season and give deGrom a win. Things were rocky for Gsellman in the inning, but he made a huge 3-2 pitch to strike out Juan Soto with one out—a nasty 98 mph heater. Gsellman was also shaky on Thursday in the eighth inning, allowing both of his inherited runners to score to tie the game. Those runs were charged to Anthony Swarzak, who failed to retire a batter in the inning before being removed from the game. Gsellman did have a less eventful appearance in Monday’s win, working around a hit to pitch a scoreless eighth inning and earn his fourteenth hold of the season.
Swarzak balanced his poor outing on Thursday with two good ones. After Jerry Blevins and Drew Smith imploded on Tuesday in the sixth inning, Swarzak put out the fire with two strikeouts to end the inning. Swarzak also earned the save in yesterday’s game after it got way too close for comfort, tossing 1 2⁄3 scoreless innings to close things out through the rain-soaked conditions.
Blevins and Smith have been responsible for the bulk of the poor pitching out of the bullpen this week. After putting together quite the nice second half, Blevins faltered this week in a big way. It began on Tuesday when he came in to start the sixth inning, tasked with protecting a two-run lead, and failed to retire a batter, walking the leadoff man and then hitting a batter with a pitch. Both of those runners would come around to score. Then on Wednesday he entered in the game in the fifth inning in relief of Noah Syndergaard and gave up a walk and two hits to give the Phillies an insurance run. On Saturday, he gave up a double to Anthony Rendon with one out and then intentionally walked Ryan Zimmerman to face Matt Wieters with two outs and surrendered a three-run homer to Wieters, putting the game out of reach for the Mets. The only highlight of the week for Blevins was in yesterday’s game, when he came in the eighth inning when the Nationals had inched ever closer to taking the lead and got Bryce Harper to fly out with a man on second for the first out.
Drew Smith didn’t fare much better this week. He did start his week off with a scoreless ninth in Monday’s win, but things went downhill pretty quickly from there. The Phillies put up a five spot on Tuesday in the sixth inning to come from behind and Smith was in the middle of it all. After Blevins put two men on to start the inning, Smith came in to try to put out the fire and poured kerosene on it instead, giving up a single, a double, and a home run. He was able to record one out before being removed in favor of Swarzak. Two of the five runs were charged to Blevins and the other three were charged to Smith. Smith was also charged with a trio of runs in yesterday’s game. He pitched a scoreless seventh, but Mickey Callaway pushed his luck by asking Smith to go a second inning, which turned out to be a mistake. Smith failed to retire a batter in the eighth, giving up four straight hits that plated three runs.
The unsung hero of yesterday’s game was Drew Gagnon, who tossed two scoreless innings of relief behind Steven Matz before things got dicey in the sixth and seventh innings. He allowed just one baserunner on a walk and struck out a batter. He earned the win for his efforts.
The bullpen was stretched yesterday in part because Matz failed to go deep into the game, going just three innings and giving up three runs on five hits and three walks. He struck out four batters. Conditions were certainly not ideal, but Matz had to labor to make it through three innings, spending almost 80 pitches to do so. Matz’s outing earlier in the week was much better. He shut out the Phillies for five innings before the bullpen imploded in the sixth. However, he did walk five batters and negotiating baserunners once again made it difficult for Matz to last deep into the game.
After the Phillies took the lead on Tuesday, Tyler Bashlor and Jacob Rhame both contributed a scoreless inning of relief. They were both also important pieces of the puzzle in Thursday’s extra-inning win. Bashlor pitched a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts and Rhame took care of the tenth and the eleventh, working himself out of a couple of jams to earn the victory. Bashlor gave up a run in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game on a Trea Turner walk and Bryce Harper double, but the game was already clearly out of reach at that point.
On Thursday, Vargy decided to make an appearance, giving up just two runs in 5 2⁄3 innings of work, striking out eight Nationals. This was after the Mets were able to tag Scherzer for three runs, so to match up against him was a big deal for Jason Vargas and for the Mets.
After the Mets took the lead in the top of the twelfth on Thursday, Paul Sewald earned his second save of the season with a 1-2-3 bottom of the twelfth. Overall, it was a good week for Sewald. He contributed a scoreless inning in Wednesday’s loss and also the first two outs of the sixth inning in yesterday’s game.
Daniel Zamora was able to get Bryce Harper to pop out with the bases loaded for the final out of the sixth inning yesterday, capping off another good week for him. It wasn’t the only time in the series Zamora was tasked with getting Harper out. He also retired Harper with two men on in the eighth inning on Thursday. Gsellman would go on to allow those runners to score, but Zamora got his man out. The only appearance in which Zamora failed to do his job was on Monday. He was brought in at the start of the ninth inning to face the lefty Odubel Herrera, but Gabe Kapler countered with the righty Andrew Knapp, who singled.
Zack Wheeler started Monday’s game and it turns out that it was his last start of the season, as the Mets opted to shut him down due to innings concerns. Wheeler didn’t go out on the highest of notes, but he still was able to earn the win—his twelfth of the season—thanks to enough run support from the offense. Wheeler gave up four runs on three hits in seven innings of work, walking three and striking out four. Wheeler was given a 4-0 lead to work with and kept the Phillies scoreless through four, but things unraveled for him in the fifth, when he gave up all four of his runs. He clearly lost command of the strike zone, something he had been prone to in the past, hitting two batters in the inning. Frankly, he was lucky to escape the inning, as it ended with Rhys Hoskins being called out on batter’s interference. Nonetheless, Wheeler put together a fantastic second half that he should be proud of and the Mets will look to build upon next season.
Noah Syndergaard was also less than sharp in his start this week. He, too, was unable to go deep into the game and labored through 89 pitches in four innings of work on Wednesday, giving up three runs and two home runs. He walked three and struck out six. The Met offense was unable to bail him out this time and was shut out, so Syndergaard took the loss, making his record 12-4 for the season.
However, on Wednesday we did see real proof that Tim Peterson is indeed on the Mets. He contributed two scoreless innings of relief, giving up one hit and striking out three. We have still yet to see proof of Eric Hanhold’s existence in quite awhile. He has not appeared in a game in two weeks.
Corey Oswalt has taken Zack Wheeler’s place in the rotation and started Saturday’s game. All told, it was a solid outing for Oswalt, who went five innings and gave up two runs on a Trea Turner two-run homer in the third inning. However, the Mets were shut out for a second time, this time by Austin Voth and the Nationals bullpen and Oswalt took the loss, evening his record to 3-3 on the season. Oswalt will get one more start on Friday to try to solidify his standing as a key part of the Mets’ pitching depth for next season.