Whether you saw it with your own eyes or simply read the box scores after the fact, it was very clear that Jerad Eickhoff’s 2021 season with the Mets was a failure in almost every imaginable way.
All together, Eickhoff pitched 19.2 innings in the orange and blue, and in that time, he gave up 30 hits, 19 earned runs, nine home runs, 10 walks, and only 13 strikeouts. According to Baseball-Reference he was worth -1.0 WAR as a pitcher while FanGraphs gives him a 30% more generous -0.7 WAR. One bright spot is that Eickhoff’s fielding independent pitching was 9.78, so his 8.69 ERA is actually a pretty solid outcome.
In his one season and three separate tenures with the Mets, Eickhoff made five appearances and four starts, all coming in June and July, as the Mets’ grip on first place became weaker and weaker. After going four shutout innings against the eventual 2021 World Series champion Atlanta Braves in his Mets debut, it felt like the Eickhoff era wouldn’t be too harrowing of an experience after all. Unfortunately for him, and everyone following the Mets, every one of the next four appearances would become more and more agonizing, culminating with a game best remembered as the win that gave Atlanta life.
On July 27, the first-place Mets were taking on the Atlanta Braves in the second game of a four-game series with New York already taking game one. Atlanta was five games out of the division and with a chance to all but bury the Braves, the Mets send Jerad Eickhoff to the mound. Eickhoff only pitched 3.1 innings prior to being removed, but not before giving up ten earned runs on seven hits while walking four. The Mets lost that game 12-5 and Atlanta had that little glimmer of hope that could’ve been effectively stomped out. The two teams would split the next two games, but with the NL East crown within reach, the Braves would acquire NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario and World Series MVP Jorge Soler fewer than three days after Eickhoff’s start.
Sure, Eickhoff pitched badly in that start, but beyond the few innings he pitched, nothing that happened during or after that game was directly his fault. A team with a loosening grip on first place shouldn’t be starting Jerad Eickhoff in any scenario with even the slightest baring on their playoff status. As badly as he pitched, it’s management’s fault that someone with 63.2 innings worth of a 5.80 ERA since 2018 was given anything beyond the spot start in the post-clinch hangover game.
By this point in the season, Jacob deGrom had thrown his last pitch of 2021, and the team almost definitely knew it. Taijuan Walker was pitching in his first “full” season since 2017, Tylor Megill was a month into his major league career, and David Peterson’s season was over. The NRI who filled out the back end of the 2017 Phillies rotation was not and was never going to be the answer.
If at any point now or in the future, you find yourself looking for someone to project your anger onto after the failure of the 2021 season, don’t blame Jerad Eickhoff, blame the guys who put him on that mound.