The bullpen’s performance this week reached unprecedented levels of bad to the point where I’m starting to think we need an emoji even worse than poop. I may have to start giving out double poops. At any rate, I can’t remember the last time I gave out three poop emojis. It’s been awhile. But sadly, that is the state of affairs this week. Aside from Chris Mazza’s feel good big league debut, there is not an up arrow (or even a side arrow) to be found among the Mets’ relievers.
While the Mets’ bullpen has had a historically bad June, the rotation has been more or less solid. The exception this week was Steven Matz, who had a very rough outing at Citizen’s Bank Park and then a rain-shortened outing against the Braves on Saturday. Matz gave up two runs in the first inning on Saturday, but settled in to toss a scoreless second before the rains came, resulting in a rain delay lasting a little over an hour. The Mets wisely chose not to send Matz back out after the delay, but his ERA for the week ballooned even higher after having already had a poor outing against the Phillies on Monday in which he gave up seven runs on a whopping ten hits, including three home runs. Incredibly, the Mets were still in the game when Matz exited. It was a classic Citizen’s Bank Park affair and Zach Eflin pitched almost as poorly as Matz.
However, Brooks Pounders came in the game for middle relief and poured gasoline on the fire. He allowed five additional runs, putting the game well out of reach for the Mets. I could have conceivably handed him a poop emoji as well for this performance, but the Mets did leave him out there to wear it. And he also pitched two more times this week and was not scored upon in either outing. He tossed a scoreless seventh in relief of Zack Wheeler on Thursday and 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings in what became a bullpen game on Saturday.
29-year-old rookie Chris Mazza did the heavy lifting on Saturday after the weather forced Matz’s early exit. Mazza worked four innings in relief and only gave up one run, scattering five hits. He struck out two batters and walked none. It was a debut to be proud of for the righty, who worked his way all the way from independent ball to the major leagues. That performance alone made him the best performer out of the bullpen this week.
Every single other reliever on the staff had at least one blow-up outing this week that either cost the Mets a game or put a game completely out of reach. Seth Lugo, who had been so reliable until recently, blew not just one game this week, but two. One came on Saturday, when he succeeded Mazza and pitched a relatively quick seventh inning. But things blew up on him in his second inning of work in the eighth. He gave up back-to-back home runs to Nick Markakis and Austin Riley, surrendering the lead and ultimately the game. On Wednesday, Lugo entered the game in the seventh inning with a man on second and one out with the Mets up by three runs. He gave that entire lead back and was charged with two runs. The Phillies would ultimately walk the game off in the bottom of the tenth.
Lugo’s inherited runner that he allowed to score was charged to Jason Vargas, who otherwise had a great outing this week. Vargas gave up just one other run—a solo homer to Jean Segura in the sixth inning. He gave up just three hits in total over 6 1⁄3 innings of work and struck out a season-high ten batters.
The walk-off loss on Wednesday came at the hands of Stephen Nogosek, who pitched to three batters in the tenth and did not retire any of them. He walked Rhys Hoskins, gave up a single to J.T. Realmuto, and then gave up a walk-off double to Jay Bruce. Nogosek also pitched the final two innings of Monday’s blowout loss and gave up an additional run, but the game was long out of reach at that point. Nogosek did log a clean inning in Friday’s loss, but once again it came at a point when the Mets were already behind.
The Mets never had a lead on Friday, despite a quality start from Jacob deGrom. It wasn’t deGrom’s strongest outing, but he kept the Mets in the game, going six innings and giving up three runs on six hits. He struck out seven batters and walked two. His biggest mistake was leaving a pitch in the middle of the plate to Austin Riley, who did not miss it, resulting in two out of the three runs deGrom surrendered in the outing.
Robert Gsellman entered the game with the Mets within a run and this time it was his turn to have an implosion. He had a horrendous eighth inning, giving up three runs on three hits and turning a one-run game into a four-run lead for the Braves. This was a sour note to end the week on for Gsellman, who had two good outings leading up to the poor one. He tossed 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings of relief in Tuesday’s loss and a scoreless eighth inning on Wednesday after the Phillies tied the game to keep the score knotted at four.
Gsellman’s outing on Tuesday came in relief of Walker Lockett, who was a bit better than his pitching line indicates. He gave up just two runs through the first five innings—two solo homers—a marked improvement on his first outing. However, things unraveled for the Mets in the sixth. Lockett put two men on to start the inning and Wilmer Font was called upon to get the final two outs of the inning. However, Font allowed both of his inherited runners to score, which tied the game and closed the book on Lockett, who was charged with four runs in total over 5 1⁄3 innings. He struck out four batters and walked two.
Unfortunately for Font and the Mets, he was not finished giving up runs yet. After allowing both of his inherited runners to score, he gave up back-to-back solo homers which turned a tie game into a two-run lead for the Phillies. He then hit a batter with a pitch, which resulted in Gabe Kapler being ejected from the game and Robert Gsellman had to come in to record the final out of the inning to bail Font out of the mess. Font is another pitcher that hovers dangerously close to poop emoji territory for this performance, but he is saved by his bounce back outing yesterday, in which he logged two hitless innings of relief and earned the win in the Mets’ only victory of the week.
Noah Syndergaard made his return from the injured list and pitched well enough to keep the Mets within striking distance, despite being pushed past his established pitch limit. Syndergaard walked the first two batters in the sixth inning and then bounced back to retire the next two batters, but couldn’t escape the inning, giving up a single to tie the game and then walking the next batter, which finally ended his day. All told, Syndergaard gave up three runs on seven hits in 5 1⁄3 innings of work with five strikeouts and three walks.
Chris Flexen came in the game in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and got one king-sized out to keep the game tied. However, he gave up two runs in the next inning. Fortunately for Flexen, the Mets let him off the hook with their comeback victory. Flexen pitched the final inning in Tuesday’s loss and retired the Phillies in order. He also logged a scoreless eighth inning in Thursday’s loss.
The time has now come to talk about Edwin Diaz’s outing on Thursday, which was horrendous. It had the potential to be one of the more exciting wins of the season, with the Mets snapping their losing streak by taking the lead on a two-run homer by Todd Frazier in the top of the ninth and adding an insurance run on top of that. Diaz entered the game with a two-run lead in the ninth. He gave up a two-run homer to tie the game. But not only that, he gave up a second home run in the same inning and the Mets suffered their second walk-off loss in a row. Diaz did keep the game scoreless in the ninth the day before to send the game to extra innings before the Phillies walked it off in the tenth. And Diaz also notched his 17th save of the season in yesterday’s comeback victory. But even two good outings don’t eclipse Thursday’s nightmare enough for him to escape the poop emoji for the week.
It’s truly a shame because Zack Wheeler had a very solid performance on Thursday that was squandered. To be fair, he was out-dueled by Aaron Nola, but it was still a good outing nonetheless. Until that fateful ninth inning, a Bryce Harper solo home run off Wheeler in the sixth inning was the difference in the game. Wheeler gave up just one other hit over his six innings of work. He struck out seven batters and walked two.