Might as well be direct about it: the Mets did not pitch well this week, to put it mildly. While the Mets were certainly scoring a fair number of runs during their stretch that propelled them back into the Wild Card conversation after many thought them long dead, it was their pitching—particularly the starting pitching—that carried them. They were going deep into games, exposing a weak bullpen a lot less often, and the Mets were able to deploy Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson successfully in the majority of high leverage situations. When the starting pitchers cannot execute night and night out as they have done, it is no surprise that the warts are showing on the Mets bullpen once more.
I suppose we have to discuss the elephant in the room here: the Very Bad Inning. This week, the Mets bullpen blew a six-run lead in the ninth inning, which is something they have never done in their franchise history. The chief culprits in this debacle were Edwin Diaz and Paul Sewald, who get poop emojis for this infamous performance. It has been an ongoing refrain this season: just when we thought Edwin Diaz might be fixed, he isn’t. This time, he had learned Jacob deGrom’s slider grip. And he had been pitching better. But this week for Diaz was another nightmare. It is easy to forget, but he did very briefly start the week on a high note when he recorded the last out of Monday night’s win via the strikeout. However, it was all downhill—steeply downhill—from there. With other relievers unable to get the job done on Tuesday and Seth Lugo having already been deployed, Mickey Callaway turned to Edwin Diaz to finish the inning with the lead still in tact. He could not. With runners already on base, Diaz gave up a double to make the score 10-8. Then, he gave up the fateful three-run homer to Kurt Suzuki that ended the game. As if that was not enough, he blew yet another save this week. He gave up a game-tying home run to J.T. Realmuto in the top of the ninth inning on Friday. Luckily, this time the Mets bailed him out via Alonso’s walk-off walk in the bottom of the inning, which ironically handed Diaz his second win of the season. But it was his seventh blown save. He did finish his week with a scoreless eighth inning in yesterday’s game with two strikeouts. But that has been the maddening thing about Diaz this season. His stuff often looks good—even great, as evidenced by his high strikeout rate. But every mistake he makes seems to sail over the wall.
Of course, there is the small matter that Diaz should not have been in the game on Tuesday in the first place. Paul Sewald began the ninth inning and faced five batters and only retired one of them. Ultimately, he was charged with four runs. Sewald also gave up a double to Rhys Hoskins yesterday in the sixth inning and he came around to score what was at the time a go-ahead run. Sewald took the loss for that effort, his first of the season.
Luis Avilan immediately followed Sewald both Tuesday and yesterday and failed to get the job done both times. In the disastrous ninth inning on Tuesday, Avilan was brought in to face Juan Soto and gave up a single that loaded the bases for Diaz. He also gave up the single that plated Hoskins, followed by a two-run homer by Maikel Franco that cemented the Phillies’ victory yesterday. On Saturday, when the Phillies announced a right handed batter as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning, Mickey Callaway took Steven Matz out of the game, but for some reason replaced him with Avilan. Avilan walked Phil Gosselin and was then removed from the game. He did, however, earn his third hold of the season on Wednesday for recording the final out of the sixth inning via a strikeout of Soto in a big spot after Jeurys Familia was smacked around.
Add Familia to the list of relievers that had a disaster inning this week. With the Mets up 7-1 on Wednesday, Familia came in to begin the sixth inning and gave up three runs, necessitating Avilan coming in the game to secure the final out of the inning. However, Familia pitched a scoreless inning on Saturday and a scoreless inning yesterday—both in games in which the Mets were behind.
If you told any Mets fan who somehow was not aware of Tuesday’s horror show, they would immediately know which starting pitcher was the victim. It was Jacob deGrom. He did not have a vintage Jacob deGrom pitching line, but he certainly did enough for the Mets to win the game. He gave up four runs on eight hits in seven innings of work. He struck out six and walked three.
Before things went south on Tuesday, Seth Lugo pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning in relief of deGrom, which earned him his 19th hold of the season. Unsurprisingly, Lugo was not scored upon this week, yet again. The very next day, Lugo pitched two scoreless innings and earned his 20th hold of the season. This rendered him unavailable on Friday, even with the off day, which forced Mickey Callaway to use Diaz in ninth inning that night. Unfortunately, as effective as Lugo has been, the Mets have to continue to use him carefully, given his partially torn UCL. But, aside from Justin Wilson, he is the only reliever Callaway can trust.
Speaking of Wilson, he had two good outings this week before having essentially his first major hiccup since coming off the injured list. He worked around a walk to pitch a scoreless ninth inning in Wednesday’s win. He pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning with two strikeouts on Friday. However, in the seventh inning yesterday after the Mets had pulled within a run, Wilson gave up a two-run homer to Scott Kingery to stretch the Phillies’ lead to three runs.
Tyler Bashlor was brought in to replace Wilson in yesterday’s game after the homer and promptly walked the leadoff hitter and then gave up a double. Inexplicably, Mickey Callaway then had Bashlor intentionally walk Andrew Knapp to load the bases for Bryce Harper as a pinch hitter. Bashlor also walked Harper to force in a run. The day before, Bashlor pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning in Saturday’s loss. However, it was because Bashlor made the game close on Monday in his second inning of work that Diaz had to come in the get the final out. Bashlor was charged with three runs in 1 2⁄3 innings of work on Monday.
Those the first three runs the Nationals scored on Monday because they were shut out by Noah Syndergaard for the first seven frames. Syndergaard was brilliant, giving up just three hits and striking out ten. If that had been his only start for the week, he surely would have earned a fireball for the performance. Unfortunately, he had a somewhat mediocre outing yesterday. He gave up four runs on six hits over five innings of work, striking out five and walking one. His day ended early because the Mets needed to pinch hit for him during a rally in the bottom of the fifth.
After Bashlor walked in the Phillies’ tenth run, Daniel Zamora recorded the final out of the inning via a force out at second base. Zamora also pitched a scoreless fifth inning in Saturday’s loss.
Marcus Stroman took the loss on Saturday in what was his worst performance as a Met. He gave up five runs—four of them earned—on a whopping ten hits in just four innings of work. He did not walk any batters and struck out six. After the game he said he was “extremely frustrated” with his recent starts.
It was Walker Lockett who took on the bulk of mop-up duty on Saturday. He tossed two scoreless innings, striking out three. It was his first appearance since being recalled from Triple-A.
Friday’s rollercoaster walk-off victory began with an unspectacular, but solid enough start from Steven Matz. Matz himself admitted after the game that he did not have his best stuff, but he battled. He gave up two runs on six hits in 5 2⁄3 innings, striking out four and walking three. His ERA stands at an even 4.00 for the season.
It was Brad Brach that was the unsung hero of Friday’s game. After Matz got into trouble in the sixth and Avilan walked Phil Gosselin to load the bases, Brach got a king-sized out, getting Jean Segura to fly out to end the inning and keep the game tied. He then pitched a scoreless seventh inning on top of that to boot. That was his only appearance this week.
Zack Wheeler put forth a solid effort on Wednesday, which earned him his tenth win of the season. He scattered seven hits over five innings and gave up just one run, striking out three and walking two. After the utter disaster the night before, it was a good redemption performance from Wheeler and the Mets.