Although the Mets’ pitching has been far from perfect, it has performed remarkably well given the fact that the Mets have essentially had to forge a wooden raft rotation over the past week-plus of games. The emergency flotation device has some leaks, to be sure, but it has stayed afloat and kept the Mets alive during a time when they have two actual starting pitchers.
I said when I wrote last week’s meter that the Mets were relying on Marcus Stroman to have a bounce back outing this week. And he did. Although he looked shaky early, Stroman ended up settling into a groove and putting together a brilliant outing on Friday night, at one point striking out five Marlins in a row. After issuing a leadoff walk in the seventh inning (his only walk of the night), Luis Rojas decided to pull Stroman after 89 pitches. That runner ultimately came around to score, so Stroman was charged with two runs over his 6+ innings of work in total. He struck out eight batters in the outing and was instrumental to the extra-inning victory.
It was Miguel Castro who allowed that inherited runner from Stroman to score on Friday night, surrendering a game-tying, two-run shot on an ill-advised changeup to Garrett Cooper. It’s a shame because if not for that changeup, we might be talking about why Castro earned a fireball this week. He was incredibly good otherwise. He limited the damage on Friday, striking out the next three hitters he faced to keep the game tied. Castro was unscored upon in his other three outings this week. He served as the opener in Tuesday’s victory, tossing a 1-2-3 first inning. He earned a hold on Wednesday, working around a leadoff walk to pitch a scoreless seventh after the Mets had taken the lead. He also pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning in a tie game on Saturday. Castro continues to be one of Luis Rojas’ most trusted arms in the bullpen.
Edwin Díaz also pitched in a lot of high leverage situations this week and worked his way through them all, earning him a fireball for the week. He saved two games this week on back-to-back days—Monday and Tuesday’s victories. He now has seven saves on the season. His other outing came in the tenth inning in Friday night’s game, where he stranded the Marlins’ free baserunner with two strikeouts, despite the runner advancing to third on a one-out passed ball by James McCann.
Monday’s victory did not come easy for the Mets. Taijuan Walker pitched three scoreless innings before exiting the game early due to side tightness that ultimately landed him on the injured list. Sean Reid-Foley was left to do the heavy lifting in relief and did so brilliantly, tossing three scoreless innings with five strikeouts. Unfortunately for Reid-Foley, his other outing this week didn’t go quite as well. After escaping a jam in the fifth inning on Saturday, he created more traffic on the bases in the seventh inning (his third inning of work). Unfortunately, one of those runners would come around to score, snapping what was at the time a scoreless tie. Nevertheless, Reid-Foley will continued to be relied on heavily for long relief.
It was Aaron Loup who allowed the deep fly ball that scored his inherited runner on Saturday before putting the inning to bed on a groundout. That capped off a poor week for Loup, who probably had the worst overall performance of any Mets reliever this week (although not quite poop emoji bad). Loup gave up a leadoff double in his second inning of work on Tuesday, which ultimately came around to score the tying run in that contest. Luckily Nido bailed Loup out with his game-winning homer in the top of the ninth. Loup also almost gave the Mets’ hard-fought lead back in the bottom of the twelfth inning on Friday night, giving up two runs and needing Jacob Barnes to bail him out. But, he did induce a key double play to help him pull a Houdini act and preserve the victory for the Mets.
The bailout of Loup in the bottom of the twelfth inning on Friday night was Jacob Barnes’ first save of the season. However, his other outing this week did not come with a happy ending. Forced into a second inning of service in a tie game on Wednesday because of the Mets’ overworked bullpen, he gave up a walk-off home run to Ronald Acuña Jr. to lead off the ninth inning. It’s hard to ding Barnes too much for that though, especially after he had pitched a scoreless eighth. Acuña is pretty good at hitting dingers.
The bullpen was forced to work hard for the third day in a row on Wednesday because David Peterson once again failed to go deep into a game. It’s been a frustratingly inconsistent season for Peterson so far, but it’s been exactly what you expect from a fifth starter. The problem is that he is currently the number two starter. On Wednesday, things unraveled very quickly Peterson after facing the minimum through the first four innings. It looked like he was well on his way to a brilliant outing. But he lost the plot quickly in the fifth and that ended with three Braves runs on the board before Drew Smith had to come in to get the final out of the inning.
Smith did successfully record the final out of the fifth inning on Wednesday without any further damage and worked out of a jam to pitch a scoreless sixth as well for an overall successful outing. He also negotiated traffic (including a free Marlins runner) to earn the win for a scoreless top of the twelfth inning on Friday night, but he was assisted by the fact that the Marlins were forced to send their pitcher Adam Cimber to bat in the inning. Nevertheless, Smith played a key role in that victory. But, Smith’s week ended on a sour note, as he took the loss for giving up the walk-off, two-run homer to Garrett Cooper in Saturday’s game.
It’s a shame because Saturday represented Joey Lucchesi’s strongest outing as a Met to-date. He gave up just one hit over four brilliant innings of work. He struck out eight Marlins in the outing, getting them to wave helplessly at his patented “churve.” Although Jacob deGrom is returning to the Mets rotation this week, it is still unclear when Taijuan Walker will be returning and Carlos Carrasco’s timeline remains delayed, meaning that Lucchesi will likely continue to get starts.
And that means that the Mets bulk guys will need to continue to be at the top of their game. Alongside Reid-Foley, the primary innings eater in the bullpen is Robert Gsellman, who had himself another strong week and is quietly putting together quite the 2021 campaign so far. Although Gsellman did allow a solo homer in Tuesday’s victory, it was not a run that relinquished the lead. He made up for it with three fantastic innings in mop-up duty in yesterday’s game, giving up just one hit and striking out two in the outing.
That outing yesterday came in relief of Jordan Yamamoto, who had his first start as a Met (his first Mets outing technically came following an opener). Unfortunately, Yamamoto did not do well. The second inning completely blew up on him and he ultimately allowed five runs (four of them earned) in the frame. Due to the Mets’ pitching situation, Yamamoto had to wear it this time. He was ultimately pushed to four innings and reported shoulder soreness after the start, although Luis Rojas insisted after the game that the soreness is not why Yamamoto was pulled.
The lopsided loss was the perfect opportunity for Yennsy Díaz to make his Mets debut. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning yesterday, walking one batter and striking out one batter.
Díaz is up with the Mets because Tommy Hunter was added to the long list of Mets on the injured list on the same day the Mets put Pete Alonso on the IL. Prior to being sidelined with back pain, Hunter pitched two scoreless innings on Tuesday. But the highlight of his outing was his first major league hit, after which he did a celebration dance on first base, and came around to score on Jonathan Villar’s two-run homer. Hunter’s postgame presser was one for the ages and for the sake of the Mets bullpen and their clubhouse morale, hopefully he is not out for too long.
It was a mixed bag this week for both Jeurys Familia and Trevor May, but ultimately none of their missteps cost the Mets a game and both put forth remarkably gutsy performances this week. We’ll start with Familia, who began his week with earning his third hold of the season with a 1-2-3 seventh inning in Monday’s victory. But the following day, he gave up an RBI single in the eighth inning that allowed his inherited runner to score, representing the tying run. He did very nearly get out of that inning completely unscathed, inducing a key double play grounder off the bat of Freddie Freeman after allowing a leadoff walk. But Marcell Ozuna singled to tie the game. Familia did strike out Ozzie Albies to tie the game though and the Mets ultimately went on to take the lead in the ninth and hold on to win. But Familia’s week ended with an impressive performance in the ninth inning of Friday’s extra-inning win. After issuing a walk and a single to lead off the inning, he retired the next three batters in order—the pinch hitter Jesús Aguilar, Jazz Chisolm Jr., and finally a thrilling strikeout of Miguel Rojas to keep the game tied.
May also began his week earning his third hold of the season in Monday’s victory. But his inning was not scoreless. He gave up a solo homer to Austin Riley in the eighth, but it was the only run the Braves would score that day and the Mets held on to win the game regardless. And like Familia, May’s week ended with an absolute Houdini act in Friday night’s wild win. It was a rollercoaster of an inning. He led the inning off with a strikeout, but then gave up a single. He struck the next batter out, but then issued back-to-back walks to load the bases. Garrett Cooper worked the count full against May, but on May’s 32nd pitch of the inning, he struck him out, resulting in a triumphant yell as he walked off the mound. The 32 pitches in the inning represented a season high for May. Familia’s week and May’s week unfolded almost completely in parallel because sandwiched between earning his third hold of the year to start the week and working out of a jam in thrilling fashion on Friday to end the week, May gave up a run in the second of his three outings this week. He gave up a solo homer to Freddie Freeman in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s victory that brought the Braves within a run. But the Mets did go on to win the game and May is far from the only pitcher in the league to have given up a home run to the reigning NL MVP.