I believe this is the first time in many weeks that I have not had to add or subtract pitchers to the meter to reflect roster changes from the week before. Although David Peterson continues to struggle, given Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco’s situations, the rotation has more or less stabilized with few alternatives to Peterson and Joey Lucchesi cementing himself as the regular fifth starter and going deeper into games. The Mets continue to win on days when their top three starters are on the mound. Jacob deGrom, Taijuan Walker, and Marcus Stroman are all in the top ten in ERA among National League starters, with deGrom, of course, leading the pack. And on the days when those three starters pitched this week, the bullpen did what they had to do for the Mets to win. However, the bullpen poured gasoline on the fire in Tuesday’s loss and blew a narrow lead in relief of Joey Lucchesi in yesterday’s game, due to the fact that the many of the highest leverage arms were not available.
As you can see, this week’s meter is mostly good with some really bad sprinkled in. Let’s start with that aforementioned Joey Lucchesi start, which was excellent. Lucchesi definitely wins the award for most improved pitcher on the meter of late, earning his second straight up arrow. He threw five innings yesterday, holding the powerful Padres lineup to just one run on four hits. He struck out six batters in the outing. The Mets are still always careful to remove Lucchesi from the game before things go south, which is warranted, given his resume, but unfortunately yesterday he left the game with a skinny one-run lead and the bullpen was unable to hold it, with the most high leverage relievers unavailable.
The only thing that saved Jeurys Familia from joining the ranks of those that earned poop emojis this week is the fact that he did have a positive outing earlier in the week before yesterday’s debacle. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning in relief of Taijuan Walker in Wednesday’s laugher. Yesterday, Familia managed to get himself out of a jam to pitch a scoreless sixth inning, but then was sent back out for the seventh and that is when things fell apart. Familia loaded the bases and walked in the tying run before finally being pulled from the game.
Then Jacob Barnes—who does have the unfortunate poop emoji distinction this week—gave up a grand slam to Fernando Tatis Jr. that broke the game open. Of course, three of those four runs were charged to Familia, ballooning his season ERA up to 3.48. But the trouble for Barnes didn’t end there. He immediately then gave up a solo shot to Manny Machado as well before finally recording the final out and was charged with two runs in just 1⁄3 of an inning of work yesterday. This was all on top of the run he surrendered on three hits in the sixth inning Tuesday’s game, but the Mets were already deep in a hole at that point. Barnes now holds a 6.27 ERA for the season and is in danger of losing his roster spot to Sean Reid-Foley (who is with the team, but has not yet officially been called up, as of this writing). Barnes has stuck around this long because he is out of options, but the Mets can ill afford to continue to carry him if he keeps this up.
Other than Lucchesi’s strong outing, the bright spot on the pitching side in yesterday’s game was Drew Smith’s two scoreless innings of work after the Padres took the lead. He walked two batters, but did not give up any hits in the outing. Smith also tossed two innings in Tuesday’s loss and gave up a solo homer to Anthony Santander in the eighth inning, but the game was well out of hand already at that point. One can question whether Smith should have been in there sooner in yesterday’s game to protect the one-run lead instead of Familia going back out for a second inning or turning to Barnes, since he’s been solid since returning from Tommy John surgery, but most of his success has come in lower leverage situations. Since he has options remaining, there is also a chance he will be sent down in favor of Reid-Foley or someone like Yennsy Diaz as the Mets require fresh arms for their packed late June schedule.
We’re peeling off the band-aid by getting all of the rough patches on this meter out of the way early, so let’s discuss Tuesday’s loss in greater detail. Put simply, David Peterson was terrible again. Once again, the Mets handed him an early lead and once again, he gave it back and then some. After working out of trouble to pitch a scoreless first inning, he coughed up three runs in the second inning before striking out two batters to stop the (already pretty profuse) bleeding. He gave up another run on three hits in the next frame. A two-out RBI double from the light-hitting Pat Valaika was enough for Peterson to earn yet another early exist. All told, Peterson gave up four runs on eight hits in just 2 2⁄3 innings of work, striking out four batters and walking one. His season ERA is now 6.32. If the Mets had any sort of viable alternative, he’d likely have been sent to the minor leagues to figure things out by now. Here’s hoping he can figure things out at the major league level, because the Mets desperately need him to eat more innings, even if the results aren’t always good.
Still, the early hook from Luis Rojas meant the game was still within reach on Tuesday, but Robert Gsellman had a rare off day in long relief. After recording the final out in relief of Peterson in the third, he gave up a run in the fourth on a Cedric Mullins double followed by a Trey Mancini single. But it was the three-run homer off the bat of none other than Met killer Maikel Franco that broke the game open and cemented an ugly pitching line for Gsellman: four earned runs in 2 1⁄3 innings of work.
But the Mets turned the tables on the Orioles on Wednesday and slugged their way to a lopsided victory. Taijuan Walker cruised his way to his fifth win of the year with seven brilliant innings of work, striking out nine Orioles hitters and walking only one. He lowered 2021 season ERA to a sparkling 2.07, bouncing back from a rare uneven week the week before.
Then, in the series opener against the Padres on Friday night, Jacob deGrom did, well, Jacob deGrom things. My deepest gratitude goes out to AA commenter Sylvan M. for creating the amazing deGOAT emoji, which I will utilize in the pitching meters moving forward as a deGrom-exclusive. He is the first pitcher since R.A. Dickey to earn his own emoji and it’s long overdue, honestly. Over six innings of work on Friday, deGrom shut out the potent Padres lineup, giving up just one hit and striking out ten batters. Oh, and he drove in two runs with the bat too because of course he did. It was a pretty big surprise when deGrom did not come back out for the seventh inning, having thrown just 80 pitches, but he has supposedly been dealing with flexor tendonitis, which ended his night early. It was a very scary diagnosis when first revealed on the broadcast and it wasn’t the first time this season Mets fans feared their ace would be sidelined long term, but ever the scholar of his own body, deGrom feels the issue is minor and it should not cause him to miss any time. The Mets better hope that’s the case because they are heavily reliant on him taking the mound every fifth day.
deGrom very narrowly avoided taking a no-decision rather than earning his sixth win of the year because of his early exit on Friday. Miguel Castro, who has been so instrumental to the Mets’ success this season, had a rare off night. With one out in the seventh, he gave up a double to Fernando Tatis Jr. and a two-run homer to Jake Cronenworth that allowed the Padres to pull within a run. He then walked Manny Machdo, clearly missing his spots and looking off in the at-bat, necessitating being bailed out by Seth Lugo. It turns out Castro slept funny and had been dealing with some neck stiffness, which likely affected his performance. It is likely that he should be available again starting tonight, but it is part of what put the Mets in quite a bind in yesterday’s game.
Seth Lugo came in to bail Castro out on Friday night and did so successfully, stranding the tying run at first base. Lugo also followed Familia in Wednesday’s game to pitch a scoreless ninth in relief of Walker to secure the victory for the Mets. He finished the week by coming through in another high leverage spot, earning his third hold of the season by striking out three batters en route to a scoreless eighth in relief of Marcus Stroman in Saturday’s victory. Predictably, Lugo has already become indispensable to the Mets bullpen since returning from the injured list and unlike last season, there is no talk of stretching him out to become a starter, despite the Mets’ needs in the rotation (and rightfully so).
Both Aaron Loup and Edwin Díaz also played key roles in high leverage on back-to-back days in Friday and Saturday’s victories. After giving up a leadoff single, Loup retired the next two batters he faced in the eighth inning on Friday night. Díaz then came in for a four-out save to face Tommy Pham with the tying run at first base. The runner representing that tying run, Jorge Mateo, stole second base, but Díaz got the key out, retiring Pham on a flyout to end the inning. Díaz then worked his way through the heart of the order, working around a two-out Manny Machado single to earn his eleventh save of the season and secure the victory for deGrom. He worked a 1-2-3 ninth the following day, protecting a three-run lead and notching his twelfth save. Loup came in Saturday’s game in relief of Marcus Stroman after Stroman walked a batter with one out in a two-run game and retired the final two batters to put the inning to bed and earn his third hold of the season.
The bullpen shutting the door helped Marcus Stroman earn his sixth win of the season on Saturday. Stroman was fantastic again; he shut out the Padres through his first six innings. Their only run of the game came on a Fernando Tatis Jr. solo shot to lead off the seventh inning. Stroman was able to get one out in that frame before walking Wil Myers, but all told he gave up just the one run on six hits over 6 1⁄3 innings of work. He struck out eight batters and walked only one, lowering his season ERA to 2.33.
The only pitcher on the active roster to not pitch this week was Trevor May, who had a few rocky outings in a row prior to this week. May said on a recent Twitch stream and on a podcast that he’s been dealing with a sinus infection and that has potentially affected his performance on the field. Hopefully he’ll be well-rested and ready to right the ship this week.