Especially given all the injuries and cycling of arms that the Mets have had to endure lately, the bullpen has performed remarkably well of late. In fact, Mets relievers pitched to a 1.59 ERA this week, which is the best mark in the National League. Unfortunately, this is in stark contrast to the rotation, which posted a 6.47 ERA this week, which is the worst mark in the National League. Jacob deGrom has had a few bad starts this year, but his most recent outing was probably his worst. Zack Wheeler also had a poor performance this week and Wilmer Font’s second start didn’t go as well as his first one. Steven Matz had an okay outing in his return from the injured list, but it was an abbreviated one, as he was put on a pitch limit. Noah Syndergaard was the only Mets’ starter to have a good week, stringing together two quality starts.
We’ll start with Syndergaard, since his performance was probably the best news to come out of the week on the pitching side of things. He gave up just two runs in each of his starts this week, but the Mets only won one of them—his start on Tuesday—the last game the Mets won. The Mets gave Syndergaard an early 4-0 lead and he didn’t look back. He cruised through the first five innings and ultimately went eight innings, striking out six batters and walking one to earn the win. He wasn’t quite as good yesterday, giving up two runs on five hits in seven innings, striking out only three batters. But the Mets were shut out, so it didn’t matter how well Syndergaard pitched. Still, it was a very positive week for Syndergaard and hopefully a sign that he has turned a corner for good.
Seth Lugo pitched in relief of Syndergaard both Tuesday and yesterday, which represents his work for the week. He struck out three batters to secure the win on Tuesday, working around a hit. He gave up a wall-scraping home run to Curtis Granderson in yesterday’s game to give the Marlins an insurance run. Today, we learned that Lugo—who has been probably the Mets’ best reliever outside of Edwin Diaz this season—has been placed on the injured list with shoulder tendinitis and it is unclear how long he will be sidelined. It is a huge blow for the Mets, already desperately thin in their pitching.
Speaking of Diaz, he had a clean slate this week, but since the Mets didn’t do much winning, he didn’t get very much work. Even though the Mets were losing on Saturday, he pitched the eighth inning simply because he hadn’t pitched in a week. He retired the Marlins in order in that appearance.
Steven Matz was the starter on Saturday and wasn’t perfect, but took a step in the right direction. On a pitch count, he went just 3 2⁄3 innings and gave up two runs on five hits. But he also struck out six batters and his curveball, which had been causing him the most pain with his nerve issue, looked very sharp.
The bullpen, including Diaz, was spotless in relief of Matz, keeping the deficit small. Tyler Bashlor logged 1 1⁄3 innings on Saturday and has been a pleasant surprise so far this season. He walked one and struck out two in that appearance. Bashlor was not scored upon in any of his three appearances this week. In Wednesday’s loss, Bashlor tossed two hitless innings. He also pitched a hitless eighth on Thursday, allowing the Mets to almost claw back to win.
Robert Gsellman also worked two innings of relief on Saturday, walking one batter and striking out one batter. But he also appeared in Thursday’s game and allowed his inherited runner to score, which ultimately proved to loom very large when the Mets fell one run short of a comeback. Gsellman is going to be even more key to the Mets’ ravaged bullpen in Lugo’s absence.
Gsellman’s inherited runner was put on base by Daniel Zamora, who was charged with the run. Zamora got the first two outs of the seventh inning on Thursday, but then walked Gerardo Parra on four pitches. Parra stole a base and then came around to score on the single allowed by Gsellman. Thursday was Zamora’s only appearance for the week.
While that tack-on run in the seventh inning ultimately proved to be the difference in the game on Thursday, it was really Zack Wheeler’s poor start that sunk the Mets that day. Wheeler surrendered a whopping eleven hits and six runs over six innings of work. He walked two batters and struck out six. The Nationals put up a four-spot on Wheeler in the first inning and he appeared to settle in after that. The Mets came back to tie the game in the third, giving Wheeler a fresh slate. But he was unable to hold the Nats there. He gave up two additional runs in the fifth inning, solidifying his final line.
But somehow, Wheeler’s start wasn’t the ugliest of the week for the Mets. Both Wilmer Font and Jacob deGrom fared worse. Font looked so-so, if unspectacular, in his first outing, but his outing on Wednesday was poor. He gave up five runs on six hits and was chased from the game after just 2 1⁄3 innings. He walked two and struck out two in the start.
This forced the bullpen to do some heavy lifting, which it did so admirably. I already mentioned Bashlor’s two scoreless innings. Drew Gagnon came into the game after Font’s exit and logged 2 2⁄3 scoreless innings of work, giving up three hits, striking out one, and walking none. Gagnon was slated to start tonight’s game, but a last-minute change has made Font the starter instead. But it still seems likely Gagnon will get some work tonight and he has cemented himself as a heavily-relied upon long reliever on the Mets’ staff.
As promised by Mickey Callaway, Jeurys Familia is being eased back into things, starting off pitching in low-leverage situations. He did so on Wednesday in relief of Font, pitching a 1-2-3 eighth inning. On Friday, the stakes were slightly higher when Familia came in the game in the eighth. The Mets were still down in the game, but had managed to crawl back within two. Familia again logged a 1-2-3 inning to give the Mets a chance to complete the comeback. With Lugo out, Familia may be pushed back into a setup role very quickly.
The Mets had such a deficit to attempt to come back from on Friday because Jacob deGrom put up a stinker. There’s simply no way around it. I take no joy in giving deGrom the poop emoji, but it’s hard to argue he didn’t earn it this week. While his final line was more or less similar to Wheeler’s—seven runs, six of them earned, on nine hits in five innings of work—he had this performance against the worst offense in baseball. He didn’t walk any batters, but struck out only three, which is troubling. Even in starts when he got hit around a bit this season, the strikeouts have usually been there. Friday night, they were not. It is unfortunate since deGrom really did seem to be turning a corner. Hopefully he can bounce back next week.
Paul Sewald, who was called up and then immediately sent back down to Triple-A when the Mets activated Matz, was tasked with middle relief on Friday. He pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning, but surrendered an insurance run on a leadoff double, a groundout, and a sacrifice fly.