The Mets went an even .500 this week, first sweeping the Cleveland Indians, but then turning around and getting swept by the first place Braves. The week featured some extra inning contests and a game with a lengthy rain delay, which pushed the bullpen to its limit. However, the pitchers performed well overall. It was mostly the anemic offense that let the Mets down in the Braves series more than mediocre pitching.
The only shaky performance the Mets had from their rotation was once again from Zack Wheeler, who had his third mediocre start in a row on Saturday. The Braves’ bats got to Wheeler again this week, smacking him around for five runs on five hits—two of which were home runs—over five innings of work. Only four of the five runs were earned, however. That said, Wheeler struggled with his command again, walking more batters than he struck out.
The Mets were able to battle back from the deficit that Wheeler put them in early, but the Braves got to the Mets’ bullpen on Saturday to pull ahead late. Brad Brach gave up two runs in the eighth inning, the result of three straight singles. To be fair to Brach, he only should have given up one run thanks to a lapse in judgement by J.D. Davis that allowed Billy Hamilton to score all the way from first on a single. But Brach also yielded a run in the sixth inning on Wednesday which tied the game at two. He did contribute 2⁄3 of an inning of work in Friday’s extra inning loss.
Things got even worse for the Mets in the ninth inning on Saturday when Edwin Diaz gave up two additional runs to put the game out of reach for the Mets. He gave up a home run to the first batter he faced in Freddie Freeman and then the second run came on a walk and a double. However, it turns out Diaz was experiencing trap tightness, which forced him out of the game. It is still unclear whether it will result in a stint on the injured list. Diaz logged an impressive scoreless tenth inning in Friday’s extra inning affair in which he struck out two batters.
Chris Flexen, newly recalled from Triple-A, finished the ninth inning for Diaz. It was Flexen that gave up the double to plate the second run of the inning, which was charged to Diaz. That represented Flexen’s only work for the week.
Predictably, Friday’s extra inning loss wasted an absolute gem from Jacob deGrom. He struck out thirteen Braves over seven innings, giving up just one run on four hits. At one point, he struck out eight batters in a row, which ties his career high. He became the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan to accomplish this feat twice in his career. With Hyun-Jin Ryu’s rough outing against the Yankees, deGrom has arguably launched himself right back into the Cy Young conversation. This is all not mentioning the fact that the only run the Mets scored on Friday came as a result of deGrom’s home run.
Despite the game ultimately resulting in a Mets loss, the bullpen contributing six scoreless innings on Friday before things went south. Seth Lugo came through in the clutch again, contributing two scoreless innings of work with four strikeouts. It was the second time this week Lugo was asked to go two innings. He also did so in Wednesday’s walk-off win against the Indians, giving up just one hit over those two frames.
Paul Sewald and Justin Wilson each logged a scoreless inning on Friday night and both pitchers had a solid week this week overall. Sewald had an impressive outing on Tuesday in his first appearance as a Met since May. He worked around a base hit and struck out three batters to pitch a scoreless ninth to lock down the win for the Mets. Sewald also protected a 2-0 lead on Thursday by tossing a 1-2-3 eighth inning with two strikeouts, after which the skies opened up for the second time, ending the game and completing the sweep for the Mets. Therefore, Sewald earned his first save of 2019 for the outing—the third save of his big league career. Unfortunately, Sewald’s week did not end on a high note. He gave up what turned out to be the game-winning run on Josh Donaldson’s second home run of the game in yesterday’s outing. But he did bounce back to log a scoreless eighth inning to keep the Mets close and it is hard to blame him for the Mets’ lackluster efforts on the offensive side.
Justin Wilson has quickly become Mickey Callaway’s most trusted reliever not named Seth Lugo. And for good reason. He lowered his season ERA to 2.22 this week with 3 2⁄3 scoreless innings of work over four appearances. He earned his eighth hold of the season by striking out two batters to finish out the seventh inning for Steven Matz on Tuesday. He also pitched a scoreless seventh in Wednesday’s extra inning win. He pitched a scoreless thirteenth on Friday night and a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts in yesterday’s loss.
Steven Matz had two fantastic starts this week, only one of which the Mets were able to win. On Tuesday he gave up two runs—only one of them earned—in 6 1⁄3 innings of work against one of the better teams in baseball. He struck out seven and walked two. The Mets were able to build a large lead late to give Matz his eighth win of the season. Yesterday, he was just as good, perhaps even better, but the Mets did not give him the run support this time. He surrendered just two hits and one run—a solo homer to Josh Donaldson—over six innings of work. He walked one batter and struck out six.
Luis Avilan tossed a scoreless eighth inning in Tuesday’s win in relief of Matz. Avilan got the win on Wednesday despite giving up a home run to Carlos Santana in the top of the tenth, as the Mets picked him up by walking it off in the bottom of the frame. Due to the outcome of Friday night’s game, Avilan’s contribution was a mere footnote, but at the time it was a hugely important one. He came into a tie game in the eleventh inning and got a king sized strikeout of Freddie Freeman to start the inning. He also pitched a scoreless seventh inning in Saturday’s loss before the Braves took the lead.
In addition to the extra inning game on Friday, the bullpen also had to do some heavy lifting in Wednesday’s ten inning win because Marcus Stroman was forced to leave the game early due to hamstring tightness. However, he expects to make his next start. Before exiting the game, he gave up one run on four hits in four innings of work with one walk and one strikeout.
Jeurys Familia came in the game to replace Stroman and pitched a scoreless fifth inning, continuing his recent string of success. He also earned a hold for his strong performance on Thursday, when he worked around a walk to toss a scoreless seventh inning in relief of Noah Syndergaard in the rain-shortened victory. However, three days of work in a row proved to be too much for Familia. With his back up against the wall in the fourteenth on Friday, Mickey Callaway turned to Familia for the third straight day and this time he was not sharp. He gave up a run on two hits and two walks, although he did strike out three batters and limit the damage to just one run. But the Mets could not come back in the bottom of the fourteenth and Familia took the loss, his second of the season.
Noah Syndergaard pitched a gem in Thursday’s rain-soaked victory. He shut out the Indians for six innings, yielding just two hits. He did not walk a single batter and struck out five. The image of Syndergaard chest-bumping Pete Alonso became the lasting image from the Mets’ sweep of the Indians and he has now lowered his ERA to 1.35 over his past five starts.