The Mets continue to be buoyed by their excellent pitching and this week is no exception. The Mets’ staff pitched to a 1.76 ERA last week as a group, which is the second-best mark in baseball. The Mets held their opponents to three runs or fewer in each of the five games they played this week and the only time their opponent scored three runs came on Monday in their only loss for the week. The Mets also shut the Rockies out completely in Game 1 of Thursday’s doubleheader. This turn through the rotation, each of the Mets starters did enough to give the team a chance to win and the bullpen did not blow any leads this week; all runs surrendered by the bullpen came in games the Mets went on to win.
Let’s start with that shutout of the Rockies, which came on the back of Marcus Stroman’s six scoreless innings of work, which earn him a fireball for this week. The Mets gave Stroman just a skinny one-run lead to work with and he made it stand up, striking out three hitters and allowing just three hits and two walks. With both Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco’s returns to the rotation delayed, Stroman’s ace-level performance in 2021 is more crucial to the team’s success than ever. He now holds a 2.47 ERA this season, which is among the top 15 starters in the National League.
Of course, the Mets have multiple starters in that top 15 and sitting atop the list is Jacob deGrom (0.80 season ERA after Tuesday’s outing), who made his triumphant return from the injured list on Tuesday and looked...well, like Jacob deGrom. The only blemish on his day was a game-tying solo home run in the second inning off the bat of Ryan McMahon. It was one of only three hits he gave up over five innings of work. He struck out nine batters in the outing. The only reason deGrom didn’t get a fireball this week is because he went just five innings, but the Mets were understandably cautious with their ace and he was pulled after just 63 pitches. That prevented him from getting the win when the Mets went on to take the lead in the sixth, but hopefully the Mets bats heating up means that no run support for deGrom is a thing of the past.
Edwin Díaz earned saves number eight and nine on consecutive days in relief of deGrom and Stroman, representing his only work for the week. He worked around a walk and struck out three batters in the ninth inning on Tuesday and tossed a 1-2-3 seventh (and final, due to the doubleheader) inning on Wednesday afternoon. Díaz continues to be lights out in save situations in 2021.
Rounding out our trio of Mets starters in the top 15 in ERA in the National League is Taijuan Walker, who also returned from a short stint on the injured list this week. The Mets were also careful not to push Walker, who threw just 80 pitches over five innings of work on Saturday, but he held the Braves scoreless in his outing. He gave up just two hits and one walk and struck out eight batters. The Mets gave Walker plenty of run support and blew the doors off the game in the later innings, giving Walker his fourth win of the season. His 2021 ERA is now 1.84.
Saturday’s game in relief of Walker was actually the only day the bullpen was less than sparkling, but it hardly mattered given the seven spot that the Mets dropped on the Braves bullpen in the sixth inning of that contest en route to a very lopsided victory. Miguel Castro surrendered a run that got the Braves on the board in the sixth, giving up a leadoff double to Guillermo Heredia, who advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch by Castro. But Castro limited the damage. Castro’s other outing this week was a fantastic effort in relief of deGrom on Tuesday in which he delivered two scoreless innings of work, striking out four batters in the process.
Bridging the gap between Castro and Díaz on Tuesday was Trevor May, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning in his only appearance of the week. He worked around a walk to earn his fifth hold of the season in the outing, bouncing back from an uneven week the week before.
The other reliever who coughed up a run on Saturday was Sean Reid-Foley, who pitched the seventh and eighth innings and allowed an RBI single to Ozzie Albies in the eighth inning. The Mets had a massive lead at that point, so it was hardly consequential, but the notable thing about Reid-Foley’s outing more than the earned run was his lack of control. An inability to throw strikes was something that plagued him as a prospect, but it was not an issue during his stint with the Mets until this week. With a huge lead to work with (and therefore no reason not to throw the ball over the plate), Reid-Foley issued three walks in the outing. Unfortunately for Reid-Foley, he ended up being the odd man out when Seth Lugo returned from the injured list yesterday. He will almost surely be back at some point, given the quality body of work he was able to give the Mets in long relief this season when they desperately needed it, but the control issues are something to keep an eye on in his minor league outings.
Jacob Barnes capped things off on Saturday with a scoreless ninth inning, complete with two strikeouts. It was the culmination of a strong week for Barnes, who bailed out Robert Gsellman to record the final out of Thursday night’s win, earning his second save of the season. He also worked two hitless innings of relief in Monday’s loss, working around two walks.
Yennsy Díaz also pitched a scoreless inning of relief in Monday’s loss. He issued one walk and struck out two batters in the outing, which came in the ninth inning. He was unscored upon during his brief stint with the big league club before being optioned back to Triple-A when Taijuan Walker was activated from the injured list. He will be another viable depth option for the Mets moving forward.
Monday’s loss was unfortunately pinned on David Peterson, despite him delivering a quality start. He wasn’t exactly great; he gave up two home runs in the outing, but both were solo shots and he was able to limit the damage. All told, he surrendered three runs on five hits in six innings of work. He struck out three batters and walked three batters. It should have been enough for the Mets to win, but the offense was unable to bail him out and he took his fourth loss of the season.
With Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco’s returns delayed, Joey Lucchesi is cemented as the team’s fifth starter for a little while longer, even with deGrom and Walker back in the rotation. He is not a guy that is likely ever going to go that deep into a game, but he did what was asked of him this week and it was enough for the Mets to win. He began Game 2 of Thursday’s doubleheader with three scoreless innings before getting into trouble in the fourth. He gave up a leadoff single to Ryan McMahon, but McMahon was erased when he was caught stealing. He then gave up another single to C.J. Cron. He was able to record the second out on a flyout, but then his command got away from him. A wild pitch allowed Cron to advance to second and he walked Yonathan Daza to put the tying run on base, chasing him from the game after 3 2⁄3 innings of work.
Drew Smith then entered the game, tasked with recording the final out and putting the inning to bed. Smith gave up a game-tying single to Connor Joe, but that run was charged to Lucchesi and Smith did retire the next batter on a flyout to escape the inning with the game tied. The Mets took the lead in the bottom of the frame and never surrendered it again, so Smith earned the win in Thursday night’s contest. That was his only outing for the week.
Thursday night also representing the only outing of the week for all three of Jeurys Familia, Aaron Loup, and Robert Gsellman. Loup earned his fifth hold of the season with a scoreless fifth inning, protecting what was at the time a one-run lead. Familia earned his fourth hold of the season by protecting the same skinny lead in the sixth inning. Each of them gave up a hit, but Loup struck out two batters and Familia struck out one. By the time Gsellman entered the game in the seventh (and final) inning, the Mets had scored two insurance runs to stretch their lead to three runs. But Gsellman hit a batter with a pitch with one out in the inning and then (after that baserunner advanced to second on defensive indifference) gave up a two-out RBI single to Raimel Tapia to allow the Rockies to draw closer. This necessitated Jacob Barnes coming in the game to record the final out, which he did so successfully to bail out Gsellman. That was Gsellman’s only work for the week and while shaky, did not prove costly for the Mets in the end.