In contrast to the position player meter, the pitching meter is quite ugly this week. The Mets continue to get uncharacteristically poor pitching and their 5.66 staff ERA is second-worst in baseball. Zack Wheeler was the only starting pitcher to have a quality start this week and while Edwin Diaz continues to dazzle and Robert Gsellman had a strong performance, the rest of the bullpen continues to falter.
We’ll start with Wheeler since he is the only good news to report on the starting pitching side. He tossed seven strong innings on Wednesday, his second straight quality start. He gave up three runs on five hits, striking out five and walking three. While he still struggles with his command more often than one would like to see, he has been by far the most consistent starting pitcher in the rotation the past couple of turns through. Unfortunately, the Mets bats were stymied by Jake Arrieta on Wednesday and Wheeler took the loss for his effort.
Wheeler was supported in relief by a clean inning from Justin Wilson, who had one good outing and one bad outing this week. Wilson logged a 1-2-3 eighth inning on Wednesday, giving the Mets a shot to come back. But he also failed to retire a batter in the eighth inning on Friday night, when he was brought in to bail out Jeurys Familia, who got into a jam during his second inning of work. To be fair to Wilson, J.D. Davis made an error behind him, allowing a run to score. But this seemed to rattle Wilson, who subsequently threw a wild pitch and then walked Kolten Wong on four pitches before Robert Gsellman had to come in to get the final two outs of the inning.
There are those that may be inclined to yell at me in the comments for giving Robert Gsellman a fireball after he walked in the tying run to force Monday’s game into extra innings. But he was brought into a situation that would make any relief pitcher sweat and after that one misstep, he was brilliant this week. He did manage to get Bryce Harper to pop out with the bases still loaded on Monday and then went on to pitch a 1-2-3 ninth inning and the Mets would go on to win the game. He was brought into the other aforementioned high leverage situation on Friday and got two king-sized outs to help the Mets hold on for the victory. Then he was called upon again yesterday when Noah Syndergaard was chased from the game early and gave the Mets three scoreless, hitless innings of relief.
Both of the Mets wins this week ended with Edwin Diaz on the mound for the save. He remains the one constant in the Mets’ struggling bullpen. On Monday, he decimated the heart of the Phillies order, striking out the side in the eleventh inning to secure the victory. Things were a little more dicey for Diaz on Friday, when he gave up a walk and a single to put the tying run 90 feet away with two outs. But he came back and got Yadier Molina to fly out to center to secure his seventh save of the season.
The Mets’ win on Friday was started by Jason Vargas, who still wasn’t great, but unlike his other outings, gave the Mets enough to win this time around. He only went four innings, but he gave up just one run on a solo homer to Jose Martinez. He struck out three and walked three.
The official scorer gave Seth Lugo credit for the win on Friday for his two innings of relief, despite the fact that he gave up two runs. Lugo did, however, give the Mets two clean innings of relief in Monday’s extra inning victory, earning his fourth hold of the season.
Noah Syndergaard was the starting pitcher for Monday night’s win, but the Mets only remained in the game because his opponent Aaron Nola struggled just as much as he did. While he struck out nine batters in five innings of work on Monday, Syndergaard also walked three batters and gave up five runs on nine hits. He was knocked around yet again yesterday and this time the Mets offense could not bail him out and he took the loss. He was the victim of some shoddy defense behind him and only four of the six runs he gave up were earned, but it was still a mediocre performance from Syndergaard, from whom the Mets expect much better.
Speaking of pitchers from whom the Mets expect much better, it was another shaky week for Jeurys Familia. His outing on Friday started out brilliantly, when he set down the Cardinals on just seven pitches in the seventh inning. However, he was then tasked with a second inning and couldn’t complete it. He retired his first batter and then gave up a double to Yadier Molina, which chased him from the game. That run would come around to score on an error, so it was not an earned run for Familia. He also had to be bailed out by Gsellman on Monday night and it was clear he did not have his best stuff. He immediately got into trouble and then got a lucky double play thanks to a brilliant play at third by Jeff McNeil. He then immediately walked two more batters to load the bases and had to be taken out of the game.
Lost in all of the craziness of Monday night’s win was the fact that Luis Avilan earned the win for a clean tenth inning of relief. However, things went less well for Avilan on Saturday when he got tagged with two runs in 1 1⁄3 innings of relief of Chris Flexen.
Flexen was called upon to make a spot start for Jacob deGrom, who is dealing with a sore elbow. It was a poor outing for Flexen, the latest of the inadequate potential Jason Vargas replacements. He gave up six runs, five of them earned, on seven hits, walking four and striking out none. Flexen barely got any swinging strikes all day, which is not a recipe for success. He took the loss on Saturday.
With the Mets having exhausted most of their bullpen on Friday, they used Avilan, Paul Sewald, and Jacob Rhame on Saturday and none of them pitched well. It was Rhame’s first appearance since being called up from Triple-A and he gave up a run on a hit and two walks in 1 1⁄3 innings of work. He seems like the most likely candidate to be sent down when Todd Frazier is activated.
Sewald gave up a solo homer to Paul Goldschmidt in his outing on Saturday, but he did eat up 2 2⁄3 much-needed innings in Tuesday’s lopsided loss. He gave up no runs, two hits, and a walk in that outing.
Steven Matz gets the poop emoji this week for his dreadful performance on Tuesday in which he gave up eight runs and failed to retire a batter. Only six of the eight runs were earned, but that is not an excuse for his ineffectiveness. Both Matz and the Mets hope this is just a blip on the radar they can move on from.
Drew Gagnon gamely stepped in to take over for Matz on Tuesday and threw almost 100 pitches in relief over 5 1⁄3 innings. He wasn’t very good, giving up an additional six runs—five of them earned—on seven hits, walking one and striking out five. But he ate the innings and saved the bullpen. He was then promptly sent back down to Triple-A when Rhame was recalled.