This week’s pitching meter is loaded with both good news and bad news when it comes to the Mets pitching staff. The obvious bad news is that Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard continue to be not just mediocre, but outright bad, which makes one feel rather pessimistic about the team’s ability to succeed if this continues. But the good news is that Steven Matz had quite the bounce back week after his one horrendous start against the Phillies and absent that start, has truly been the Mets’ best starting pitcher this season. And Zack Wheeler had himself an excellent week as well. The middle relief continues to be an issue for the Mets, but Edwin Diaz is sublime, Seth Lugo looked like Seth Lugo, and Daniel Zamora has showed some promise in his first week in the majors in 2019.
Let’s start with Zack Wheeler’s week because it’s very fun. Not only did he shut the Phillies out for seven innings on Tuesday, striking out eleven batters and earning the win, he had a banner day at the plate as well. He drove in three runs! That’s right, three runs. He hit a home run, the first of his major league career, and a two-run double. The pitching dominance combined with the offensive prowess earns him a fireball this week.
Luis Avilan pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning in relief of Wheeler with two strikeouts. But he also had a mediocre outing this week, yielding a run on two hits and a walk on Friday. But the Mets were already far behind at that point in the game and the run he gave up was not consequential in the outcome.
Jacob Rhame finished out the game on Tuesday in relief of Wheeler and we all know what happened during that inning of relief involving him and Rhys Hoskins. But the final result was still a scoreless inning nonetheless. Of course, Hoskins would get his revenge against Rhame, hitting a home run against him the next day. Rhame was handed a two-game suspension, which he is appealing, and the Mets optioned him back to Triple-A. He will have to serve his suspension if he is called back up before he can pitch in a game.
Corey Oswalt was called back up to take Rhame’s place and he was once again forced into immediate service due to a Mets starter getting knocked out of the game early. Unlike last time, Oswalt was given a clean inning to start with, but just like last time, his outing did not go well. He gave up four additional runs in Friday night’s contest, breaking the game wide open for the Brewers. He has since been sent back down again in favor of Drew Gagnon.
Friday was Jacob deGrom’s return from the injured list and it went just about as poorly as his starts immediately prior to his time on the injured list went. To be fair to deGrom, the game was delayed nearly three hours by rain and weather-related delays seem to have plagued him again already this year. He continues to look nothing like the pitcher we saw last year. He gave up five runs on five hits in just four innings of work, walking three batters. However, the stuff is still clearly there; he also struck out seven batters. He continues to struggle with his location and Mickey Callaway thinks he may be leaving the rubber too early and a simple mechanical fix could be the answer to his woes. We will see what his next start holds, hopefully with better weather in store.
Flying somewhat under the radar this week was Daniel Zamora, fresh up from Triple-A this week. Zamora pitched the ninth inning of Friday’s game long after most people probably went to bed with the hour late and the score lopsided, but he struck out the side and looked quite impressive. So far, he’s struck out ever batter he’s faced this year, in fact. His only other appearance this week came in Wednesday’s game before things ballooned on Gsellman and Rhame and the game was still close. He struck out Bryce Harper in a big spot in the seventh. Zamora helps serve as the second lefty in the bullpen while Justin Wilson is on the injured list.
But, as I mentioned, a 1-0 game on Wednesday soon became lopsided when Robert Gsellman yielded three runs in the eighth inning. He also gave up a run in two innings of work on Saturday’s game, putting that game further out of reach.
Jason Vargas started Wednesday’s game and gave the Mets the Jason Vargas version of a quality start, giving up a run on three hits and walking two and striking out four over 4 2⁄3 innings of work. He certainly gave the Mets a shot to win the game, but the Mets seem to be pulling him after the second time through the order for all of his starts at this point, which is probably the proper way to handle him.
The most obvious downside of that strategy, though, is that the Mets have to piggyback Vargas with Seth Lugo most of the time, burning a couple of innings on Lugo’s candle. Lugo was fantastic this week. He pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Vargas, striking out two and not walking any batters. He earned his fourth hold of the season, tossing a scoreless seventh inning on Monday. And then he earned his fifth hold of the season yesterday, striking out the side in the eighth inning.
Both Monday’s and yesterday’s holds came in relief of Steven Matz, who has had an incredible bounce back week after his dreadful start against the Phillies when he failed to retire a batter. His two starts this week went very differently. He got his revenge against the Phillies on Monday, giving up just one run in six innings. He walked two and struck out six. He shut out the Brewers yesterday through six innings before giving up a two-run homer to Mike Moustakas, but he was otherwise great, earning his third win of the season.
Both of Matz’s wins were nailed down in the ninth by Edwin Diaz, who continues to be a joy to watch. He faced nine batters this week and retired them all, six of them via the strikeout. He has a staggering 10.00 strikeout to walk ratio for the season. Yesterday he earned his eighth save of the season.
Jeurys Familia pitched the eighth inning of Matz’s win on Monday and retired the Phillies in order. However, he gave up an additional two runs in Saturday’s loss, which proved to be significant when the Mets’ attempted a comeback and fell two runs short.
Saturday’s loss fell ultimately on Noah Syndergaard, though, who was lit up again this week. He gave up five runs and a staggering ten hits in just five innings of work. He walked three batters struck out five. He said after the game that he has no trust in his off-speed pitches at the moment, saying every new baseball he gets “feels like an ice cube.” The Mets and Syndergaard seem to be at a loss when it comes to his woes on the mound.