The Mets activated three relief pitchers from the injured list this week—Luis Avilan, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson—but the Mets bullpen didn’t exactly pitch any better as a unit this week, with the exception of Seth Lugo, who was the bright spot this week. This week also saw Steven Matz make his first appearances out of the bullpen, another deGrom gem squandered away, and one good performance and one bad one from Zack Wheeler.
We’ll start with deGrom’s solid performance against the Phillies on Friday night that should have been enough to give the Mets a victory. He gave up a solo home run to Scott Kingery on the first pitch he threw, but was otherwise brilliant. He only gave up three hits in total and two runs, striking out ten Phillies hitters. He left with the game tied, but unfortunately it did not stay that way, as a disastrous ninth inning from the bullpen was the Mets’ undoing that day yet again.
Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia were responsible for that ninth inning. Both pitchers received better grades this week than they probably deserved, but they mixed in good performances with the bad. Diaz let the lead get away on a double and a single to lead off the inning. He then walked a batter and struck out the next batter, the only out he would get in the inning. He then gave up an additional base hit, which forced him from the game. Familia would allow his inherited runners to score which were charged to Diaz’s ledger, amounting to an ugly four runs over just a third of an inning. However, it would be unreasonable to give Diaz a poop emoji this week, considering he got the save in both Mets victories this week. He tossed an uneventful ninth inning against the Yankees on Tuesday, working around one hit and striking out two. Things were slightly dicier for him on Saturday as the Phillies hit the ball hard against him, but he was aided by both his defense and a timely strikeout to earn his nineteenth save of the season just before the All-Star break.
Similar to Diaz, it was a decidedly mixed bag for Jeurys Familia this week in his return from the injured list. Familia entered the game on Friday with the Mets down two runs—technically still in striking distance—and could not put the inning to bed and allowed the game to get further out of hand. After striking out his first batter for the second out, he gave up back-to-back doubles and then walked a batter. So not only was he unable to finish the inning, the Mets were down five runs by the time he exited the game. However, Familia did pitch two clean innings this week, but both of them came in lower leverage situations. He tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning with two strikeouts in Wednesday’s loss to the Yankees and a scoreless sixth inning in yesterday’s loss to the Phillies, working around a hit and striking out one batter.
Due to Diaz’s and Familia’s ineffectiveness, Mickey Callaway was forced to turn to Luis Avilan, also fresh off the injured list, to finish the ninth inning on Friday night. Avilan did so, inducing a groundout off the bat of J.T. Realmuto to finally put the inning to bed. That was Avilan’s only work for the week.
The bullpen hero this week is Seth Lugo, who after a horrific week last week goes straight from poop emoji to fireball. He pitched three innings this week, all in high leverage situations, and got the job done all three times. Before Diaz and Familia imploded in the ninth on Friday night, Lugo delivered a scoreless eighth inning in relief of deGrom that kept the game tied. Lugo earned the win on Tuesday when he entered another tie game and worked around a walk to give the Mets a clean eighth. They would go on to take the lead in the bottom of the inning, allowing Diaz to secure the save. Lugo once again tossed a scoreless eighth in Saturday’s victory, protecting a skinny one-run lead. He gave up one hit and struck out two batters in the inning, earning his twelfth hold of the season. Despite his hiccup last week, he remains the Mets’ most reliable relief pitcher this season.
The bullpen as a whole had a surprisingly good day on Saturday, giving up just one run as a unit over three innings in relief of Syndergaard, who had a rather mediocre outing. Syndergaard earned his sixth win of the season, but did not pitch particularly well, giving up four runs on seven hits over just five innings of work. He walked just as many batters as he struck out and surrendered two home runs. But Tomas Nido’s clutch double and some solid relief pitching (for once) bailed Syndergaard out.
The first relief pitcher to enter the game after Syndergaard’s exit was Justin Wilson, who had a good week in his first week back from the injured list. He retired the first two batters in the sixth inning on Saturday and was only removed from the game due to the desire on the part of Jim Riggleman (who was managing the game after Callaway’s ejection) to utilize platoon splits. Wilson’s other appearance this week came in Tuesday’s victory, when he finished off the seventh inning for Zack Wheeler, who was effective but had reached a high pitch count. He retired both batters he faced.
Zack Wheeler had one good performance this week and one poor one. He helped lead the Mets to victory on Tuesday with his very solid outing against the Yankees, tossing 6 1⁄3 innings and giving up just two runs on five hits. He walked one batter and struck out eight. But Wheeler was tagged with four runs in the first inning yesterday and also with his sixth loss of the year. He settled in after the first inning, but exited the game in the sixth inning without retiring a batter in the frame. He walked J.T. Realmuto ahead of Jay Bruce, who hit a two-run homer to put the Phillies further in front. All told, he was charged with six runs on eight hits over 5+ innings. He struck out seven batters and walked two.
Wilmer Font escalated the damage yesterday, capping off an overall poor week for him in long relief. He did eat the final three innings of yesterday’s game, but gave up two additional runs on solo homers to Bruce and Rhys Hoskins in the process. Font was also responsible for two of the Yankees’ five runs in Wednesday’s loss over his 1 1⁄3 innings of work in that contest.
Jason Vargas started Wednesday’s game and gave a very Jason Vargas effort. He gave up three runs on seven hits over 5 1⁄3 innings of work, striking out six and walking two. It isn’t quite as good as he’s been recently, but it’s still about the best you can expect out of him. Unfortunately, he was handed his fourth loss of the season for that effort, as the Mets offense was completely stymied by Domingo German and the Yankees bullpen.
Wednesday also saw Steven Matz’s first appearance out of the bullpen for the Mets. After Wilmer Font got into trouble, Matz entered the game with traffic on the bases and was able to get Didi Gregorious to ground out to end the inning. Matz earned his first hold on Saturday, despite a slightly shakier performance. With the Mets nursing a 6-4 lead, he once again came in with a runner on base, but allowed two singles to get the Phillies within a run. However, he was able to negotiate the rest of the inning without further damage, holding the Mets’ lead.
Matz’s inherited runner was put on base by Robert Gsellman, who entered Saturday’s game after Wilson retired the first two batters in the sixth inning and struck out Sean Rodriguez for the final out. He then went back out to start the seventh and retired the first batter he faced, but then hit a batter with a pitch and was removed from the game in favor of Matz. Gsellman’s only other appearance this week was in Wednesday’s loss, in which he pitched a scoreless eighth inning, working around a walk and striking out two batters.