The Mets went 4-2 in their last road trip of the season, which was good, but not good enough to keep pace with the red hot Brewers. The Mets are now 4.5 games back of the Wild Card with 7 games to play. Stranger things have happened, but it would certainly take a small miracle to send the Mets to the playoffs at this point. When it comes to the Mets’ pitching staff, it was somewhat of a mixed bag this week. Jacob deGrom had another Cy Young worthy performance and Marcus Stroman performed well in his two starts—the latter under challenging circumstances. However, Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard both pitched poorly this week. The bullpen was solid overall, but the usually reliable combination of Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo let the Mets down in Saturday’s loss.
The week started off pretty poorly for the Mets when Steven Matz had his worst start of an otherwise solid second half. Coors Field was not kind to Matz on Monday. His night ended after just four innings, over which he surrendered seven runs on six hits. He struck out four batters and walked two. Matz had a lead going into the bottom of the fourth, but his vice of letting innings get away from him reared its ugly head again. The Rockies put up a six spot on Matz in that fourth inning and the Mets would never come back from the deficit.
Matz’s early exit necessitated quite a number of innings from the bullpen. Walker Lockett pitched a scoreless fifth, working around a base hit. That was his only work for the week.
Monday’s game was also the only game Paul Sewald appeared in this week. He came into the game in the seventh inning with traffic on the bases and allowed two singles, the latter of which plated a run before getting out of the inning.
That run was charged to Jeurys Familia, who pitched a scoreless sixth, but then allowed a hit to lead off the seventh inning and was taken out of the game. Familia bailed out Noah Syndergaard on Wednesday when he was unable to finish the sixth inning, striking out the only batter he faced to record the final out. Familia also pitched the ninth inning in Friday’s win. He gave up a solo home run to Aristides Aquino, but at that point the Mets had built up a rather sizable lead and Familia was able to get through the rest of the inning unscathed.
Most of the work in Friday’s win was done by Jacob deGrom. who had yet another brilliant start and arguably pulled ahead of the rest of the pack in the NL Cy Young Award race with his performance. He shut out the Reds for seven innings, needing just 96 pitches to do so. He gave up just four hits, struck out nine, and walked none. He crossed the threshold into double-digit wins to earn his tenth win of the season, which after his Cy Young season last year, we know is purely aesthetic, but it certainly helps to get over that hump. It was, as Gary Cohen put it, “routine brilliance” from deGrom.
Brad Brach was the first to come out of the bullpen in relief of deGrom int he eighth inning on Friday. He retired his first two batters before giving up a single and being removed from the game in favor of a platoon advantage. It was a strong week for Brach overall. He tossed a scoreless inning in Wednesday’s win. He also recorded a king-sized out yesterday for Marcus Stroman when he loaded the bases with two out in the fifth, inducing a pop out from the dangerous Eugenio Suarez. He went on to toss a scoreless sixth as well to help lead the Mets to victory.
Stroman clearly had to battle yesterday. Given Matz’s struggles on the road, the two were flipped in the rotation this week, with Stroman pitching yesterday and Matz pitching today, opening the final home series of the season. However, it did not end up being a good deal for Stroman, who was suffering from nausea yesterday and clearly looked uncomfortable on the mound. He battled and gave the Mets four strong innings before things fell apart for him in the fifth. He allowed a solo home run with two outs and then walked three straight batters, forcing him out of the game before he could become the pitcher of record. Nonetheless, he kept the Mets in a game they went on to win. The Mets won Stroman’s other start this week as well, which came on Tuesday. It was arguably Stroman’s best start as a Met. He shut out the Rockies for seven innings at Coors Field, allowing just four hits. He struck out seven and walked one batter. The performance earned him his ninth win of the season.
Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless eighth in relief of Stroman on Tuesday, but his appearance on Saturday did not go as well this week. He came into a tie game in the eighth inning on Saturday and retired his first batter, but then gave up a walk and a single. He was then taken out of the game, but the eventual game-winning run would come around to score and that run was charged to Wilson. He did, however, earn his fourth save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning in yesterday’s game, working around a walk and striking out two.
Mickey Callaway turned to Seth Lugo to finish the eighth inning for Wilson, but he allowed the base hit that scored the go-ahead run. He struck out the first batter he faced for the second out, but then gave up a single to the pinch hitter Christian Colon, which almost scored two runs, but Jose Peraza was tagged out at home. The rest of the week was better for Lugo, who tossed two scoreless innings on Wednesday with three strikeouts to help the Mets to a comeback win. He earned his seventh win of the season for the effort. Lugo allowed a solo homer in the eighth in yesterday’s game, but the Mets had enough of a cushion to accommodate that and he still earned his 21st hold of the season.
The Mets won on Wednesday in spite of Noah Syndergaard, not because of him. He gave up a whopping ten hits in 5 2⁄3 innings of work at Coors Field. He did, however, limit the damage to four runs, two of which came on home runs by Sam Hilliard. After the news about his request for a personal catcher caused a stir in the media, Syndergaard did not help his narrative which his poor performance pitching to Rene Rivera, but we’ll see how he does at home this week at regular altitude.
Zack Wheeler was the starter for the Mets’ tough loss on Saturday. The bullpen squandered a solid start from Wheeler, who allowed seven hits over seven innings, but limited the damage to two runs, only one of which was earned. He struck out six batters and walked only one in the outing. With that performance, Wheeler pushed his season ERA just below 4, now holding a 3.99 ERA for the year.
It was a mixed bag for the Mets’ former closer this week. Things started off on the wrong foot when he allowed an insurance run on two hits in the eighth inning of Monday’s loss. However, he bounced back nicely after that. On Friday, with Luis Avilan unable to get the job done against the lefty, Diaz came in to get the final out of the eighth inning with men on base and did so via a strikeout of Eugenio Suarez. He earned his very first hold of the season yesterday with a scoreless seventh inning. He worked around two walks to strike out three batters and keep the Mets in front.
It was also somewhat of a mixed bag for Luis Avilan this week. As I alluded to, he was unable to get the lefty out in the eighth inning on Friday, walking Joey Votto to put two men on for Suarez. That was the only batter he faced in that game. Avilan recorded the first two outs in the seventh inning of Monday’s loss before Sewald came in to finish the inning. He also pitched the ninth inning in relief of Stroman in Tuesday’s victory. However, he allowed a solo homer to Charlie Blackmon in the process. Luckily, the Mets had built up a large enough lead that it was not consequential, other than in breaking up the shutout.
Because the Mets are in full September bullpen mode, several relievers—Tyler Bashlor, Chris Mazza, Drew Gagnon, Donnie Hart, and Daniel Zamora—did not pitch this week.