Of course, I do not need to recap what the Mets accomplished this week, going 6-1 and clawing to within a half a game of the NL Wild Card (now one game as of this morning). They completed a four-game sweep of the Marlins, which included a sweep of a doubleheader on Monday and then took two of three from the Nationals, their winning streak being broken in yesterday’s game. All of this was done in large part on the back of the Mets’ starting rotation. During this historic run, the Mets have gotten length out of their starters, which has meant much less exposure of the weaker parts of the bullpen. This trend needs to continue if the Mets want to make a run for the playoffs.
We’ll start with the one hiccup, which is that Jacob deGrom had his first so-so outing since the All-Star break. Of course, this was mostly through no fault of his own. The Mets committed a costly error in the first inning that resulted in being in the hole 3-0 early. deGrom battled back and held the fort, which allowed the Mets to come back and keep the game close. But because of the extra pitches he was forced to throw, he lasted just five innings, which was part of the Mets’ downfall yesterday. He struck out seven over those five innings and allowed four hits and three runs, none of them earned. Things went much better for deGrom and the Mets in the afternoon game of Monday’s doubleheader. He went seven innings and allowed just two runs on five hits, striking out eight. The Mets cruised to an easy victory and deGrom earned his seventh win of the season to even his record to 7-7.
After the Mets cobbled things together through the middle innings yesterday, Edwin Diaz allowed yet another home run to put the game too far out of reach for even these Mets to overcome. The Mets were down by just one run in the ninth when Diaz walked Adam Eaton and then allowed a two-run homer to Victor Robles and the Mets’ deficit was stretched to three. Diaz was solid earlier in the week, however. In relief of Jacob deGrom on Monday afternoon, he pitched a scoreless ninth inning with a four-run cushion to work with. He surrendured a walk and struck out two in that outing. Diaz’s struggles remain a huge question mark for the Mets, as they’ve continued to deploy him in a mix of high leverage and lower leverage situations to try to get him back on the right track. But his performance remains uneven.
However, it was Robert Gsellman who took the loss yesterday, after giving up two runs in the seventh inning that put the Nationals ahead. He allowed back-to-back singles to Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon and was removed from the game. Both runners would come around to score on a double by Asdrubal Cabrera off Justin Wilson. It was an up-and-down week for Gsellman, as it usually is, as he was instrumental in the Mets’ comeback victory in the nightcap on Monday. He allowed his inherited runners to score in relief of Walker Lockett in the fifth, but bounced back to pitch a scoreless sixth to pave the way for the Mets’ comeback win. He finished the game for Zack Wheeler on Tuesday with an ample lead to work with and sealed an easy victory for the Mets. He also contributed 1 1⁄3 innings on Friday night, tossing a 1-2-3 eighth inning. But he then allowed two hits in the ninth inning, one of which would come around to score, a run that was charged to Gsellman’s ledger.
Justin Wilson has also been in the middle of all of these close games with mixed results. He bridged the gap between deGrom and Diaz on Monday afternoon, twirling a scoreless eighth. He gave up a hit and struck out two in the outing. He recorded a key out in Wednesday’s victory, finishing the seventh inning for Steven Matz without letting the inning get away, which allowed the Mets to build a bigger lead in the bottom of the frame and roll to another easy victory. That performance earned him his sixth hold of the season. Wilson allowed a two-run homer to Anthony Rendon in the seventh inning on Friday night, but the Mets bailed both he and Gsellman out with their improbably comeback in the ninth. It was Wilson that allowed the double to Asdrubal Cabrera yesterday, which allowed two runs to score, which were charged to Gsellman.
Luis Avilan also had a shaky outing yesterday, but had been solid for the rest of the week heading into yesterday’s game. Avilan was tasked with the sixth inning yesterday in a tie game and struck out two batters, but alternated that with two singles. However, he was bailed out by newest Met Brad Brach, who recorded the clutch final out in the sixth with two men on. That was Brach’s only work for the week. Avilan pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning in Wednesday’s 7-2 win over the Marlins and earned the win on Friday night for recording the final two outs of the ninth inning via the strikeout ahead of the Mets’ comeback in the bottom of the frame. Avilan did, however, throw a wild pitch which allowed Trea Turner to score. That run was charged to Gsellman.
Marcus Stroman was the starter who took the mound for Friday’s thrilling comeback win. It was his first start in front of his home crowd and the crowd was certainly amped up, on their feet in the very first inning when he recorded two strikeouts after allowing a leadoff single and a stolen base to Trea Turner to strand him there. That was the story of Stroman’s night. He worked with traffic on the bases for most of the evening, but was able to limit the damage and the nine strikeouts he racked up were instrumental in his solid performance. The key inning was the fourth, in which he allowed three runs, including a two-run homer off the bat of Juan Soto. But he settled in after that, giving the Mets two more scoreless innings. Stroman was charged with a fourth run in the seventh when Mickey Callaway inexplicably tried to push him to one more batter, who he walked. Wilson then gave up the two-run shot to Rendon and one of those runs was charged to Stroman. But overall it was a very solid performance for Stroman in his first Citi Field outing.
The very next night, it was all about Noah Syndergaard and Seth Lugo. After getting tagged for two runs early, Syndergaard settled in and was ultimately able to go seven innings, which was key to the Mets’ victory. Syndergaard walked two and struck out five in his solid performance.
This allowed Seth Lugo to go to the distance and finish out the game for Syndergaard. In the eighth, Lugo allowed a go-ahead solo homer to Juan Soto that for most teams would have been a back-breaker. But not for these Mets during this hot streak. They battled back to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth and Lugo finished things out with a 1-2-3 ninth, earning his fifth win of the season. Saturday was Lugo’s second straight two-inning performance to close out a victory. He also pitched the final two innings of the night game on Monday after the Mets took the lead in the seventh and was flawless. He did not allow a hit and struck out two batters. He earned his second save of the season.
That brilliant performance by Lugo on Monday night came in relief of Walker Lockett, who was about as solid as the Mets could have hoped he would be in a spot start. He didn’t allow a run through the first three, but the fifth inning is when things started to get dicey for him. He allowed a game-tying home run and then put two more men on in the inning before he could record the final out, forcing Gsellman into the game with traffic on the bases. Gsellman allowed a double to Curtis Granderson that allowed his inherited runners to score and closed the book on Lockett, who was ultimately charged with four runs on eight hits in 4 2⁄3 innings.
It was none other than Jeurys Familia who earned the win on Monday night, thanks to a scoreless eighth inning in which he worked around a walk and struck out a batter. It was a much better week overall for Familia. He also tossed a scoreless eighth in Wednesday’s victory. He capped off his solid week with a very impressive performance in yesterday’s game in which he struck out the side in the eighth inning, keeping the Mets within a run.
It was the length the Mets got out of Zack Wheeler that allowed them to cruise to an easy victory on Tuesday. Wheeler did allow eight hits over his eight innings of work, but he walked just one batter while striking out five. Despite not pitching a single clean inning, Wheeler still needed only 101 pitches to get through eight. He was backed by Luis Guillorme and Adeiney Hechavarria up the middle, who turned three double plays behind him to help him get through multiple jams unscathed.
Steven Matz earned the win for his solid performance on Wednesday, allowing just two runs on seven hits over 6 2⁄3 innings. He struck out seven and walked two in the outing. Continuing to get length out of the likes of Steven Matz in addition to their aces at the top of the order is essential to the Mets moving forward as they try to stay in this Wild Card battle.