Most of the Mets’ poor pitching performances were confined to their one loss this week, which took place on Wednesday. Although the bullpen almost had another complete meltdown in yesterday’s game, they had built up such a large lead that they still narrowly escaped with the win. The stars of the show this week are Steven Matz and Seth Lugo, the former throwing a shutout against the Pirates and the latter continuing to be far and away the Mets’ most reliable arm out of the bullpen this year.
Steven Matz deserves top billing this week for tossing the first complete game of his career. He shut down the Pirates completely on Saturday, allowing just five hits. He struck out seven batters and walked none. He needed just 99 pitches to complete the victory and was the first Mets pitcher to throw a complete game in under 100 pitches since Johan Santana. It was a huge milestone for Matz, who often struggles both with his pitch count and with letting innings get away from him. But he was lethal on Saturday with runners on base, working quickly and pumping strikes into the zone. His stuff, especially his slider, looked the sharpest it has ever looked.
It turns out this will be the final player meter for Jason Vargas, who was traded to the Phillies today. He ended his Mets tenure on a high note. He wasn’t at his absolute best yesterday, but he gave the Mets enough to win, especially with the run support they gave him. He gave up three runs over 5 1⁄3 innings, striking out five batters and walking three in his final Mets start. That effort earned him his sixth win of the season. He also earned the win on Tuesday, going toe to toe with Chris Paddack and coming out on top. He pitched six shutout innings and gave up just one hit. He walked four batters, but struck out eight. It’s been a bounce back season for Vargas, who carries a solid 4.01 ERA with him to Philadelphia.
The bullpen almost blew the lead in relief of Vargas yesterday and escaped by the skin of their teeth. Tyler Bashlor started the inning and was poor, retiring just one of the x batters he faced. He was ultimately charged with three runs. He did, however, pitch better in his other two appearances this week. He gave up a hit and a walk, but no runs in 2⁄3 of an inning in relief of Vargas on Tuesday, earning his first hold of the season. Bashlor came into a disastrous eighth inning on Wednesday and gave up a single that scored his inherited runner, but then induced a double play grounder to end the inning.
One of the three runs charged to Bashlor yesterday was due to the fact that Edwin Diaz came in the game to finish the ninth inning yesterday and immediately gave up a two-run homer that put the Pirates within one. However, Diaz did record the final two outs after that to escape with his 23rd save of the season. Diaz notched his 22nd save in Tuesday’s win, giving up a hit to score his inherited runner, but nothing else. Diaz appeared in Thursday’s game, but was removed after a Manny Machado line drive hit him in the foot. However, his appearance yesterday demonstrates that he has recovered from that, if nothing else. It’s possible that this will be the last meter for Diaz as well, as his name continues to be brought up in trade talks.
Speaking of being brought up in trade talks, it was Noah Syndergaard who started the game on Wednesday and he delivered a so-so performance. He did give up four runs on eight hits, but his defense let him down, as the Mets committed two errors. Only three of the four runs were earned and he did settle in to ultimately pitch seven innings after a rocky start. However, despite striking out eight hitters, he walked five. He was handed his fifth loss of the season to bring his record to 7-5 for the year.
The aforementioned disastrous eighth inning on Wednesday in relief of Syndergaard began with another poor performance from Jeurys Familia. He gave up a single to lead off the inning and only recorded an out because his baserunner was caught stealing. He then subsequently walked a batter and gave up another hit and was taken out of the game. That represented his only work for the week.
Familia was replaced by Luis Avilan, who gave up yet another hit to the only batter he faced. However, Avilan did not allow a run this week over three appearances. He pitched a scoreless inning in Thursday’s win and recorded the final two outs of the sixth inning in relief of Zack Wheeler in Friday night’s win, earning him his first hold of the season.
Stephen Nogosek pitched the final inning of Wednesday’s loss, allowing an additional run on two hits. He also struck out a batter. That represents his only work for the week.
Now that we’ve got Wednesday out of the way, let’s move on to happier topics. Jacob deGrom was brilliant again this week, settling into a 2018-like groove at this stage. He tossed seven scoreless innings on Thursday, striking out nine batters and walking only one. He also gave up only four hits. It was the most usage of his slider deGrom has had in a start in quite some time and the pitch was certainly working for him on Thursday afternoon with nasty bite. Don’t look now, but deGrom is now third among qualified pitchers in the National League in fWAR, behind only Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. He has even surpassed Hyun-Jin Ryu and his 1.74 ERA and 11-2 record.
Speaking of brilliant, Seth Lugo was immaculate in his three appearances this week. He tossed a scoreless eighth inning in relief of deGrom on Thursday with two strikeouts. The very next day, with Diaz unavailable due to his ailing foot, Lugo earned his very first save of the season, twirling a 1-2-3 ninth inning to secure the victory for the Mets. He earned his 16th hold of the season yesterday, pitching 1 1⁄3 hitless innings in relief of Jason Vargas and striking out two batters.
Zack Wheeler earned his seventh win of the season for his effort on Friday in which he went 5 1⁄3 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and striking out seven. It was certainly not Wheeler’s best start of the season, but it was solid and at the very least it was a demonstration to potential trade suitors that he is healthy.
Robert Gsellman and Justin Wilson each also contributed a scoreless inning in relief of Wheeler on Friday, earning their seventh and fifth holds of the season, respectively. Wilson also pitched a scoreless eighth inning in yesterday’s game before things got dicey in the ninth. But Wilson’s week did not begin as well as it ended. On Tuesday, Wilson came in to start the ninth inning with a four-run lead to protect. He walked two straight batters, forcing Edwin Diaz to come into the game. Diaz gave up a run-scoring double, which was charged to Wilson.
Gsellman also had a shaky outing on Tuesday to balance out his strong one on Friday. He gave up a run on two hits over 1 1⁄3 innings of work. He struck out one batter and walked none.