Collectively, the entire Mets starting rotation has earned a fireball this week. Outside of one so-so start from Noah Syndergaard, they were pretty much perfect this week. However, as is the Mets way, a couple of gems were squandered by a combination of bullpen ineptitude and lackluster offense.
Let’s start with Noah Syndergaard, who had the one so-so start, but followed that up with a fantastic one. On Monday, Syndergaard gave up four runs on nine hits in six innings, walking three batters and striking out six. That wrapped up an August in which Thor posted a 4.74 ERA, which is obviously not what you want from a top of the rotation starter. He’s been good at generating soft contact, but not missing bats and has generally had some problems putting guys away. That all changed in yesterday’s start, in which he threw a complete game—the first of his career—and gave up just one run on two hits, striking out eleven and walking one. It was a vintage 2016 Syndergaard start and something Mets fans have been missing dearly.
The rest of the rotation was all great this week as well. Jacob deGrom did his usual thing on Tuesday—one run in eight innings with double-digit strikeouts. He drove in the only Mets run himself. The game was still tied when it was suspended due to rain and the Mets were walked off the next day in the eleventh. He remains .500 on the season. The only good news is that Nola and Scherzer’s ERAs have gone up this week, so deGrom’s hold on the ERA lead is firmer than ever.
Paul Sewald and Daniel Zamora combined to give up the winning run to the Cubs in the eleventh. Sewald came on with a man on (a walk by Jerry Blevins) and got a free chance at an out from a sacrifice bunt. However, he threw the ball wildly to first, getting no outs on the play. He then got a strikeout for the first out and the next batter was intentionally walked. That represented Sewald’s only work for the week.
Unfortunately, Daniel Zamora came in and gave up the walk-off hit. Because of the error, the run was charged to Sewald, not Blevins. Zamora was also a part of the bullpen’s collectively poor night on Friday, giving up two runs in the Giants’ six-run eighth. He struck out two batters to get within an out of escaping the jam he was brought into, but then gave up a two-run triple. Zamora also gave up a solo home run in the eighth inning of Monday’s loss. It was a let down week for Zamora after a very positive debut week in the major leagues, but he has still shown flashes of ability that we will hopefully see more of in the month of September.
Zamora certainly wasn’t the only member of the bullpen to be victimized by the Giants on Friday. Robert Gsellman took the hill to start the eighth inning with the Mets only down by one run and was unable to record an out, giving up a lead-off solo homer and a double before being pulled in favor of Zamora. It was Gsellman’s first outing back from a bout of strep throat that sidelined him for a few days and caused him to lose ten pounds, so it may have been that he was still working himself back up to full strength. He certainly bounced back in a big way on Saturday, earning the save in the Mets’ extra-inning win.
Drew Smith rounded out the eighth inning shellacking on Friday night, also giving up two runs. He, too, did not retire a batter. His week began a lot better than how it ended, though. He tossed a scoreless inning with two strikeouts in relief of Syndergaard in Monday’s loss. He also pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning in Wednesday’s 10-3 win.
Jacob Rhame was the one to record the elusive final out of the eighth inning on Friday. Rhame has been up and down a lot this season, more than any other member of the Mets’ bullpen. But with rosters expanded, he is likely here to stay. Rhame’s other appearance this week came on Wednesday, when he gave up two runs. But the score was already lopsided at that point, so it was not much of a factor in the final outcome.
Friday’s bullpen implosion came in relief of Zack Wheeler, who threw a gem, but ended up with nothing to show for it. In fact, he took the hard-luck loss for a seven-inning effort in which he gave up just one run on four hits. He didn’t walk any batters and struck out nine. Wheeler’s string of brilliance continues, as he creeps up the leaderboard lists in pitching WAR.
Steven Matz also gave the Mets a brilliant outing this week, his third good start in a row and his second really good start in a row. He gave up just one run in seven innings against the Giants on Saturday, striking out a career-high eleven batters. Unfortunately, as is often the way with the Mets, he earned a no decision for that effort. But the Mets were able to win the game in extra innings.
In between Matz’s good start and Gsellman’s strong finish on Saturday were good outings from Seth Lugo and Jerry Blevins, who both happened to pitch in both of the Mets’ extra-inning games this week. Lugo tossed two perfect innings on Saturday—six up and six down. He also threw a scoreless ninth on Tuesday night before the rain came.
Jerry Blevins got the win on Saturday for pitching a scoreless tenth inning. He also pitched a scoreless tenth on Wednesday, working around a walk and striking out two batters. But, Blevins took the loss in Monday’s game for giving up two runs without retiring a batter. Overall, Blevins has still been excellent in the second half, leading to a certain amount of surprise that he wasn’t dealt at the waiver deadline.
Wednesday’s ten run barrage came to the benefit of Jason Vargas, who has all of a sudden strung together three good starts in a row—which have earned him three wins a row. He still hasn’t been able to go deep into games, but on Wednesday he went 5 1⁄3 innings and gave up just one run on four hits, walking two and striking out six.
Corey Oswalt finished up the sixth inning for Vargas, working around a walk and striking out a batter. He earned a hold for his effort, his first of the season.
Tyler Bashlor tossed a scoreless seventh in relief of Vargas, striking out two batters. That was his only appearance this week.