This nine-game span of play for the Mets since the All-Star break has been a tough one to evaluate from a pitching perspective. The Mets were walked-off three times in a four-game span, which certainly feels bad, is not fun to witness, and feeds into the narrative about the Mets’ bullpen that has been ever-present the entire year. However, those losses were really driven by the Mets’ inability to score runs in those games and—in one case in particular—an error in the field that was no fault of the pitcher. In reality, the Mets’ bullpen has actually pitched extraordinarily well since the break and that is reflected by the lack of poop emojis (for a change) and the sparse number of down arrows in this table. The starting rotation, absent one clunker by Jason Vargas, has also performed well so far in the second half.
There was also quite a bit of personnel shuffling on the Mets’ pitching staff since the All-Star break, with Zack Wheeler hitting the injured list and bullpen arms cycling up and down due to all the extra inning games the Mets had to play in the Giants series. It was Walker Lockett that was called upon to start in place of Wheeler this time through the rotation and he pitched quite well. It was certainly his best outing as a Met so far. He earned his first big league win thanks to one-run, five-hit performance over five innings of work. He struck out three batters and walked none.
Tyler Bashlor and Stephen Nogosek were called up on Friday after the the marathon extra-inning game the night before and both appeared in relief of Lockett in Saturday’s win. Bashlor put forth a workman-like performance, soaking up two innings without allowing a baserunner. Nogosek was less successful, allowing three runs in his inning of work, but the Mets had built a hefty lead at that point, so it did not have an impact on the outcome of the game. For both pitchers, Saturday was their only outing since being recalled.
Speaking of Thursday’s marathon extra-inning game, it began with flashbacks of 2016, as Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner went toe-to-toe on the mound. Bumgarner outlasted Syndergaard, but Thor did quite well for himself, tossing seven innings and giving up just one run on six hits. He struck out eight batters and walked one. Syndergaard has pitched great in both of his starts since the All-Star break. He earned a win for his efforts in the second game of the Marlins series, in which he again pitched seven innings and gave up two runs on five hits, striking out nine without walking a batter. Syndergaard leads the Mets pitching staff with 0.8 fWAR accrued in the second half thus far, which earns him the fireball.
Last Saturday’s win against the Marlins went much like the Mets would’ve drawn it up in the offseason. After Syndergaard’s seven strong innings, Seth Lugo acted as the bridge to Edwin Diaz to secure the victory. Neither Lugo nor Diaz surrendered any runs this week, but the former was particularly impressive. In 5 2⁄3 innings of work since the break, Lugo has not walked a batter, given up just one hit, and struck out eight, which leads Mets relievers. He has earned three holds since the break, bringing his total up to 15 for the season. His one bad week is looking more and more like a blip on the radar and he is back to being the most dominant reliever in the Mets’ bullpen.
Although Diaz allowed more baserunners than Lugo over the past nine games, he still got the job done and has not surrendered a run yet in the second half. He earned his 20th save of the year last Saturday against the Marlins in relief of Syndergaard and his 21st save of the year in Tuesday’s win over the Twins, once again immediately following Lugo. He also contributed a scoreless inning yesterday and in Thursday’s sixteen-inning game.
It was truly all hands on deck on Thursday and the relief corps performed quite well, despite ultimately coming out on the losing end. It was Chris Mazza that took the loss in the end. He tossed a scoreless 15th inning but then things got away from him as he attempted to navigate his second inning of work. The Mets had given him a one-run lead, but he faced five batters in the 16th and did not retire any of them. Mazza was soon sent back down to Triple-A Syracuse. Mazza also pitched in relief in both games Jason Vargas started in the second half. Last Friday, he gave up a run over 1 2⁄3 innings in an already lopsided game. It was much the same story on Wednesday, when he was tasked with the final two innings of the game and gave up a run, but the Mets had already built up quite a big lead at that point.
Really the only other pitcher on the staff outside of Nogosek and Mazza to have a bad appearance was Vargas, who started last Friday’s game. He pitched the Mets’ first game after the break against the Marlins and it did not go well. He gave up six runs on five hits, including two home runs. However, Vargas did redeem himself by giving the Mets a quality start in Wednesday’s lopsided win, giving up three runs on five hits. He struck out four batters and walked one, earning his fourth win of the season.
After the Mets took the lead on Wednesday, Jeurys Familia pitched a scoreless seventh inning before the Mets blew the game open, earning his tenth hold of the season. Familia has looked better since the break and has not yet give up a run in the second half. But, he has not been without his shaky outings and has also left inherited runners for others to clean up. Last Sunday, he loaded the bases in the seventh with one out, forcing Lugo to get two king-sized outs to bail him out. He did return the favor on Tuesday, getting the last out of the sixth inning with the tying run on base. He was also one of many Mets relievers to contribute a scoreless inning in Thursday’s extra-inning loss. However, he was shaky again in yesterday’s game, walking two straight batters in the 11th before being removed from the game in favor of Robert Gsellman.
Gsellman has been similarly up and down since the break and especially prone to the home run ball. He got a clutch double play to bail Familia out in the 11th inning yesterday, but then gave up the walk-off home run to Mike Yastrzemski in the 12th. He also gave up a home run in his first outing after the break last Friday, but the Mets were already behind at that point. He gave up a solo homer to Garrett Cooper in last Sunday’s win, but pitched the final two innings of the game to protect the lead. He walked two batters over 2⁄3 of an inning in a close contest on Tuesday, but those baserunners were stranded. However, he was the only reliever to contribute multiple innings in the sixteen-inning game on Thursday.
Justin Wilson has been relied on heavily since his return from the injured list and has pitched very well so far in the second half. He has yet to surrender a run and has given up just three hits in five innings of work. He earned a hold in last Sunday’s victory and in Tuesday’s win. He contributed a scoreless inning to the extra-inning losses on Thursday and yesterday and also tossed a scoreless sixth inning in Saturday’s win.
Steven Matz had one so-so outing and one good one since his return to the starting rotation after a brief stint in the bullpen. He forced the bullpen to do some heavy lifting on Tuesday, lasting just four innings. He gave up two runs on five hits, struck out two batters, and walked one, but kept the Mets in the game, which they ultimately went on to win. He redeemed himself with a solid outing yesterday, this time going six innings and giving up two runs on six hits. He struck out six batters and walked one. But the results did not go the Mets’ way, as they were walked off for the third time in four days.
Jacob deGrom suffered a similar fate, winning the game in which he did not go as deep into the game and the Mets being walked off in his stellar performance. Last Sunday was a classic “deGrom battles through without his best stuff” performance. He gave up six hits and walked three batters, but only gave up one run over five innings, utilizing six strikeouts to escape jams. He was absolutely brilliant on Friday, twirling seven scoreless innings—a vintage deGrom performance. He gave up just three hits and struck out ten Giants.
Unfortunately, deGrom’s gem was squandered by a costly error by Dominic Smith in the bottom of the tenth inning. Jacob Rhame was on the mound in that tenth inning and took the loss, but he really did pitch well. He had issues with control, working around two walks to pitch a scoreless ninth. He then walked the leadoff hitter in the tenth, but then struck out two straight hitters and induced the shallow fly ball that would have gotten him out of the inning if not for the error. Rhame was sent back down to Triple-A when Walker Lockett was activated for his start.
Before Rhame entered the game in the ninth on Friday, Luis Avilan contributed a scoreless eighth inning. Avilan was also not scored upon in any of his four appearances since the break. He recorded the last out in last Friday’s loss, pitched a scoreless ninth inning in Thursday’s marathon loss, and earned his second win of the season on Tuesday in relief of Matz for notching the final out of the fifth inning and the first two outs of the sixth inning.