While it’s hard to blame the Cubs’ sweep of the Mets entirely on the pitching, the Mets’ otherwise brilliant second half rotation had a hiccup this week, with a couple of mediocre performances and one horrendous one from Noah Syndergaard. The Mets bullpen, which has been enjoying relative stability lately, pitched to a respectable 3.60 ERA as a unit this week, with Seth Lugo contributing the bulk of the high leverage innings, as usual, and doing so brilliantly.
We’ll get the worst out of the way first and discuss Noah Syndergaard’s nightmarish outing, which earns him the poop emoji this week. Syndergaard certainly was not assisted by his defense; there were multiple plays that should have been made that were not made behind him on Wednesday. Nonetheless, he still gave up a whopping ten runs—nine of them earned—on nine hits in just three innings of work. He gave up three home runs. It was one of the worst, if not the worst, outing of his career. He walked one and struck out five. Miraculously, the Mets almost clawed themselves all the way back, but Syndergaard put them in too deep of a deficit to overcome. Hopefully it’s just a blip on the radar in what has been an otherwise fantastic second half for Thor.
To give the bullpen credit, they pitched six scoreless innings in relief of Syndergaard, which allowed the Mets to make the ballgame even remotely interesting on Wednesday. Paul Sewald and Brad Brach each contributed two scoreless innings to the effort. That represented Brach’s only work for the week, as Mickey Callaway revealed after the game yesterday that he has been dealing with a minor shoulder issue. Sewald also recorded the final out of the seventh inning in yesterday’s game, piggybacking off of Luis Avilan.
Avilan had another solid week out of the pen this week. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth on Wednesday. He came in the game in a key spot with the bases loaded on Saturday and did walk in a run, which was charged to Steven Matz, but rebounded to get an inning-ending double play.
Matz’s start on Saturday wasn’t sparkling, but he gave the Mets enough to win. He was solid through five, but then got into trouble in the sixth and loaded the bases with nobody out, forcing his relatively early exit from the game after 5+ innings. Still, he ultimately surrendered just three runs on seven hits, striking out six and walking one. The Mets were able to hold the lead and earn Matz his ninth win of the year.
Justin Wilson came through in the clutch this week, including on Saturday, and continues to keep himself within Mickey Callaway’s circle of trust. He bailed out Jeurys Familia, getting the final two outs of the seventh inning on Saturday, retiring the lefties Harper and Morrison. He earned the win on Friday night for pitching a scoreless bottom of the seventh in a tie game right before the Mets put up multiple crooked numbers to take a late lead.
Until Wilson’s recent run of success, Callaway’s circle of trust included just one man: Seth Lugo. Lugo had another phenomenal week this week, tossing three scoreless innings. He tossed a 1-2-3 eighth in relief of Jacob deGrom in Thursday’s loss with two strikeouts. He gave up just one hit and struck out four over two scoreless innings to earn his fourth save of the season on Saturday.
In reality, deGrom pitched a lot better than his final line would indicate. He struck out seven and allowed just five hits over seven innings of work, but Victor Caratini was his kryptonite that day, as he hit two home runs which accounted for all four runs deGrom allowed. As usual, the Mets were unable to give him any run support and he took his eighth loss of the season.
Lost in the lopsided nature of the final score of Friday night’s game is Zack Wheeler’s performance, which was excellent. After a string of rough outings, Wheeler bounced back in a big way on Friday, going toe-to-toe with Phillies ace Aaron Nola and scattering seven hits over six innings of work. He allowed just one run, struck out four, and walked three. The Mets did not take the lead in time to give him a win, but it was certainly a step in the right direction for Wheeler.
After the Mets put up a five spot in the eighth, Edwin Diaz came in to pitch the bottom of the frame. He has had a resurgent week and gives credit to deGrom for teaching him his slider grip. It seems to have paid off so far for Diaz, who pitched two scoreless innings this week. He logged a 1-2-3 eighth inning on Friday with two strikeouts and struck out the side in very impressive fashion in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s loss.
With the Mets leading by ten runs in the ninth on Friday, Chris Mazza—newly recalled from the minor leagues—was called upon to do mop-up duty. He had a pretty terrible inning, but did not let it get far enough such that it necessitated the use of another pitcher, so in that sense he did his job. But it wasn’t pretty. He gave up four runs on four hits and one walk. He also pitched the final two innings of Tuesday’s loss, giving up one run on four hits and striking out two.
Marcus Stroman took the loss on Tuesday after having a merely so-so outing. He gave up four runs on six hits—including two home runs—over six innings of work. He struck out seven Cubs and walked two. He had a much better outing yesterday, giving up just two runs over six innings of work, notching his first quality start as a Met. He struck out six and walked two. Unfortunately, the Mets were unable to mount much offense against Zach Eflin and Stroman took a no-decision for the effort.
Stroman left with the game tied, but things unraveled for the Mets in the eighth inning. With Wilson supposedly unavailable, Mickey Callaway turned instead to the newly recalled Daniel Zamora to face Bryce Harper to lead off the inning. Zamora did not do his job, surrendering a leadoff single to Harper.
Jeurys Familia replaced Zamora and poured gasoline on the fire. He walked Rhys Hoskins, recorded an out via a fly out, and then intentionally walked Cesar Hernandez to load the bases for Scott Kingery. Kingery hit a bases clearing double that turned out to be the difference in the game. One of the runs was charged to Zamora and two were charged to Familia. It was a sour note on which to end an otherwise decent week for Familia. He tossed a scoreless seventh inning in Tuesday’s loss in relief of Stroman. He worked around a hit and a walk to pitch a scoreless ninth inning in Thursday’s loss. He gave up a leadoff double to Jean Segura in the seventh inning on Saturday, but bounced back to strikeout the dangerous J.T. Realmuto before being removed from the game in favor of Wilson, who completed the inning without allowing his inherited runner to score.