It’s been a horrific week for the Mets bullpen, which did see the return of Seth Lugo, but also blew two sizable leads in the same week and imploded many times. This changed the entire tone of the road trip, which could have been an overall positive one, getting a split of a tough Dodger club (or even taking three of four) and then taking two of three from the Diamondbacks. Instead, the result was a 2-5 road trip and a slip further to the edges of contention. On the bright side, the Mets rotation mostly performed well and outside of Steven Matz’s rough start yesterday, kept the Mets in the game in each of their starts. Jacob deGrom in particular looked like his old self again in his most recent start.
Jacob deGrom started two games this week. One start went much better than the other, although he got no-decisions in both of them. However, he did keep the Mets in the game in both starts. On Monday, it was clear he did not have his best stuff. But he battled and limited the damage to just two runs, despite allowing seven hits and striking out only two batters. His day was limited to just five innings of work because of his rising pitch count, but he left with the game tied, matching Clayton Kershaw. On Saturday, deGrom was brilliant and showing shades of 2018 deGrom. He gave up just one run on five hits, striking out seven over 6 2⁄3 innings of work. He would have gone even deeper into the game if not for a hip cramp that forced Mickey Callaway’s hand, despite deGrom’s protestations.
In both of deGrom’s starts, his efforts were squandered by the bullpen. On Monday, the Dodgers put up a six-run sixth inning against the Mets bullpen. The two chief culprits there were Tyler Bashlor and Daniel Zamora, who both earned the poop emoji this week. After Bashlor gave up three straight hits with one out in the inning, Mickey Callaway called on Zamora who let the damage balloon. Zamora allowed five straight batters to reach base, which included a home run and a hit by pitch, before retiring a single batter on a sac fly and six runs had come home in the inning—three charged to Bashlor three charged to Zamora. That horrific outing was Zamora’s only outing for the week. He was optioned back to Triple-A Syracuse when Seth Lugo was activated from the injured list.
Unfortunately for Bashlor, Monday was not the only nightmarish appearance for him. On Saturday, Bashlor gave up the walk-off run in the eleventh inning against the Diamondbacks. In yesterday’s game, after Hector Santiago got into trouble in the eighth, Bashlor was called upon to get the final out. He gave up a single that plated two runs, charged to Santiago. Although at that point the game was already far out of reach, it capped off a very rough week for Tyler Bashlor.
On Saturday, it was Jeurys Familia and Robert Gsellman that combined to blow the lead and waste deGrom’s gem. Familia did well to get the final out of the seventh inning with inherited runners, after deGrom left the game due to the hip cramp. But things unraveled for him in the eighth. Familia gave up two runs to bring the Diamondbacks closer and was ultimately charged with three runs in the inning. It’s a shame because the week started so well for Familia. He pitched a scoreless eighth in the Mets’ one win against the Dodgers on Tuesday, working around a hit and a walk. But things went downhill from there. He gave up a home run to Cory Seager in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s heartbreaking loss to get the Dodgers closer and then the aforementioned meltdown happened in Saturday’s loss.
But it was Gsellman that ultimately allowed the tying run on Saturday in the form of a two-run homer by Adam Jones, the first batter he faced. It was an up-and-down—mostly down—week for Gsellman. He gave up a run on two hits in the seventh inning in Tuesday’s win. The exact same line repeated itself on Wednesday and while the game was still certainly winnable before Edwin Diaz blew the big lead, allowing the Dodgers to crawl closer certainly did not help either. He bounced back in a big way on Friday, earning his first save of the season. But then obviously things went south again on Saturday for Gsellman, who at that point had worked three of the past four days. Hopefully the return of Seth Lugo will lighten the load on Gsellman.
Speaking of Lugo, he was activated ahead of Friday’s game and was needed in a high leverage situation immediately. He was betrayed by his defense when Carlos Gomez misjudged a fly ball to center that sailed over his head for a triple, but he held firm and did not allow a run, earning his seventh hold of the season.
Friday’s game—the only game the Mets won in the Diamondbacks series—was started by Zack Wheeler. It wasn’t Wheeler’s best start. He had one big inning balloon on him, but outside of that one inning, he cruised. He struck out nine batters and didn’t walk any batters. And he kept the Mets in a game they would ultimately come back and win, earning Wheeler his fifth win of the season.
We of course cannot avoid discussing Edwin Diaz’s nightmare outing on Wednesday that he called “the worst day of my career.” It was a bad day indeed. He was given a three run lead and gave up four runs, allowing the Dodgers to walk it off. He only retired one batter. He gave up two home runs. It was certainly a poop emoji performance, but it would be unfair to give him the poop emoji for the week since he had two other outings this week, both of which went well. He tossed a scoreless ninth inning in Tuesday’s win. He also came in a tie game on Saturday and got a crucial out in the ninth and struck out the side in the tenth, finishing his week on a high note, despite Wednesday’s disaster.
Wednesday’s game began with a solid outing from Noah Syndergaard. He was hit hard early, but settled in to pitch three consecutive scoreless innings in the fourth, fifth, and sixth. He gave up three runs on seven hits, striking out five batters and walking two. Even if it was an unspectacular line, it was one that kept the Mets in the game and he left the game with the lead, only to watch it dwindle away, much like deGrom on Saturday. Against a team as formidable as the Dodgers, a quality start is certainly a step in the right direction for Syndergaard.
On Saturday, when Edwin Diaz was called upon to get the crucial final out in the ninth inning, it was to bail out Drew Gagnon, who walked Tim Locastro on four pitches with one out. He was able to get the second out, but Locastro advanced all the way to third base on a stolen base and a passed ball and with the winning run 90 feet away, Mickey Callaway felt he needed to turn to Diaz. It was one of three appearances from Gagnon this week. He gave up a tack-on run to the Dodgers in the ninth inning on Monday and recorded the final out of the eighth inning in Thursday’s loss via the strikeout.
Jason Vargas was tagged with a tough luck loss on Thursday, despite arguably his best performance of the season. He pitched seven innings for the first time this season, scattering six hits and giving up just one run to a powerful Dodger team. He struck out a season-high six batters and walked three. Unfortunately, the Mets provided him with no run support and were shut out by Hyun-jin Ryu for 7 2⁄3 innings.
Hector Santiago started the eighth inning after Vargas’ departure from the game and surrendered an insurance run to the Dodgers on three hits. He also was charged with the two tack-on runs yesterday against the Diamondbacks in the eighth with Bashlor unable to strand his inherited runners. Santiago was called up when Seth Lugo was placed on the injured list and has mostly been relegated to low-leverage situations so far.
Yesterday’s game began with a mediocre outing from Steven Matz. The Diamondbacks jumped on him immediately, tagging him for three runs in the first inning. To his credit, Matz settled down, but then gave up two more runs in the fifth inning. Matz had put together a solid body of work since his nightmarish start against the Phillies when he did not get out of the first inning and this was arguably his shakiest start since. However, his week started much more favorably. He was the starter for the Mets’ only win against the Dodgers on Tuesday, surrendering two runs on four hits over six innings of work. He struck out six batters and walked three. That effort earned him his fourth win of the season.
With Jason Vargas back in the rotation, Wilmer Font has been relegated to relief duty. And he has done well so far in that role in a limited sample. Font has a clean sheet this week in two appearances. On Monday, he tossed 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings in relief of Jacob deGrom, giving up just one hit in the outing. He also pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning in yesterday’s game.