After two sparkling pitching meters in a row, this week is a very different story. The Mets’ bullpen, which had been so good of late, had an awful week. Notably, the bullpen blew Friday night’s game, which ended in a walk-off loss. And Saturday’s game was a poorly-pitched game all around outside of Drew Smith’s work as the opener in that contest. However, bright spots this week included David Peterson’s performance in Friday’s game and Taijuan Walker’s outing on Wednesday.
We’ll start with the positives. Taijuan Walker pitched an excellent game on Wednesday and earned his third win of the season in Matt Harvey’s return to Citi Field. Walker gave up just one run on four hits, walking three batters and striking out four. He also benefited from some fantastic defense played behind him. Walker going deeper into the game on a somewhat regular basis would be a huge boon to a rotation that missed Jacob deGrom this week and will continue to be without Carlos Carrasco for some time it seems.
David Peterson also pitched a great game this week and his final pitching line from Friday night does not reflect just how well he threw. He shut the Rays out for seven innings, going toe-to-toe with Tyler Glasnow, at one point retiring 17 batters in a row. Luis Rojas chose to push Peterson, sending him back out for the eighth inning. He immediately gave up a solo homer to break up the shutout. He then gave up a double to rookie Kevin Padlo, but retired Brett Phillips on a key strikeout. Trevor May ended up allowing the inherited runner to score, which was charged to Peterson, but in an alternate timeline we could be discussing seven shutout innings from Peterson and a fireball. He’ll have to settle for an up arrow, but it was an encouraging outing for the Mets’ young starter to bounce back from his nightmare last week.
The Mets’ bullpen wasted this sparkling effort from Peterson and that started with Trevor May, who had his first bad week as a Met since the first week of the season. Not only did May allow his inherited runner—the tying run—to score in the eighth inning of Friday night’s game, May allowed a run in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s game as well. Luckily for him, the offense bailed him out by walking it off in the bottom of the ninth.
The ninth inning of Friday night’s loss was a combination effort from Miguel Castro and Aaron Loup—two more Mets relief pitchers who have been great early in the season, but did not do their jobs this time. After retiring the first batter, Castro loaded the bases via a single sandwiched between two walks. That was his only appearance this week. Loup then came in and struck out Joey Wendle, but then allowed the game-winning base hit to Brett Phillips, which handed Castro a loss. Loup also allowed an inherited runner to score in Tuesday’s game, coming in to relieve Marcus Stroman and giving up a deep fly ball to Pat Valaika, which scored a runner from third and broke what was at the time a scoreless tie.
That sacrifice fly was the only blemish on Marcus Stroman’s day on Tuesday. All told, Stroman was charged with just the one run on five hits over 6 1⁄3 innings of work. He walked two batters and struck out five, keeping the Mets in the game and allowing them to eventually walk it off. However, Stroman’s other start this week was not as positive. Stroman took the loss in yesterday’s game in which he gave up five runs on six hits with one walk and one strikeout. He gave up three home runs in the outing.
Edwin Díaz poured gasoline on the fire yesterday, giving up two additional runs in the eighth inning. It was not a save situation and a game the Mets would have likely lost regardless, but it was still an awful outing for the Mets’ closer, finishing off a week in which none of the Mets’ high leverage relievers performed well.
This includes Jeurys Familia, who started the week off well, earning the win for a scoreless top of the ninth on Tuesday. He worked around a hit and a walk in that outing. However, his week took a sharp downturn after that. He was one of many Mets pitchers to get pounded by the Rays on Saturday. Familia was a big part of the Rays’ six-run eighth inning that completely blew the doors off the game. After Jacob Barnes loaded the bases without retiring a batter (his only appearance this week), Familia entered the game and not only allowed all of those inherited runners to score on back-to-back doubles, he allowed three runs of his own as well.
The only members of the bullpen that had a good week were Robert Gsellman and the newly activated Drew Smith. They pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth innings respectively in relief of Walker on Wednesday. Gsellman tossed a scoreless seventh inning in yesterday’s loss, sandwiched between Stroman’s mediocre start and Díaz’s poor outing. Meanwhile Smith served as the opener on Saturday and allowed just one run that was unearned, allowing the Mets to jump out to an early lead.
Unfortunately, the subsequent pitchers gave all of that back and much more. Joey Lucchesi was the primary culprit, lasting just 1 2⁄3 innings and allowing four runs. Lucchesi retired the Rays in order in his first inning of work, but in the fourth inning he coughed up a walk and then three straight hits to allow the Rays to tie it up. He retired two batters after that, but then Sean Reid-Foley came in the game and didn’t fare any better. He gave up a double and a single that plated two additional runs before finally recording the final out of the inning.
Amongst all of the ugly pitching lines on Saturday was two scoreless innings of work from Tommy Hunter, who continues to work around traffic on the bases to get the job done. Given the current situation with the pitching staff, it wouldn’t be surprising if Hunter ends up getting more work, perhaps in slightly higher leverage situations.