Although it’s hard to beat last week’s pitching meter, where there was not a down arrow or a poop in sight, this week still came pretty close. The Mets continue to be mostly carried by their pitching, which posted a 2.79 ERA (best in the National League, third-best in baseball) and 1.4 fWAR (tied for best in baseball) this week. Of course, it helps that this was a week in which Jacob deGrom pitched twice. Tuesday’s loss was notable for the Mets in that it was one of the few games the bullpen blew all season, which will happen from time to time, even to the best bullpens. Other than that, the bullpen was great this week. David Peterson’s outing on Wednesday was the one exception to an otherwise excellent week for the starting rotation and thanks to some heavy lifting in middle relief and the bats coming out to play against Madison Bumgarner, the Mets pulled out a victory in that game.
Folks, the Amazin’ Avenue community called and I listened. In a week where Jacob deGrom delivered not just one fantastic start, but two, and continued to cement himself in the history books, I award him his first Dickey fireball. (I am sorry that the Dickey fireball does not gif the way it should. It does gif in the output of the SB Nation Tableizer tool I use to create these meters, but I post the tables as screen shots. I still think the Dickey fireball looks pretty great as a still image, though.) deGrom did not give up any runs in either of his starts this week and he earned the win in both of them, which was a refreshing change of pace from the no decisions he is used to. On Monday, still operating under a pitch count in his second start back from the injured list, he twirled six scoreless innings and gave up just two hits, striking out eight batters and walking none. He was fully unleashed on Saturday and he shut out a potent Padres lineup for seven innings, giving up just three hits, striking out eleven batters, and walking one and frequently sitting above 100 mph with his fastball. He threw 85 pitches in Saturday’s start and said after the game that it was his own decision to not go back out for the eighth inning because he was tiring; the Mets will understandably continue to do whatever it takes to protect the health of their ace and the best pitcher in baseball. deGrom’s season ERA is now 0.62—the best mark of all time for any pitcher in baseball history through his first nine starts.
Trevor May was the first pitcher called upon in relief of deGrom in Monday’s game and his outing did not go well; it was the start of a pretty rough week for May. Tasked with protecting a five-run lead in the seventh inning, he immediately gave up a solo homer to Eduardo Escobar. He then was able to bounce back and retire the next two batters, but a single, a wild pitch, and another single plated another run, necessitating May’s exit from the game to be bailed out. Luckily this did not cost the Mets, who had a big enough cushion to work with, but the very next day, May had an outing that did prove costly. The bullpen had already blown a lead in Tuesday’s game, but the Mets were almost able to scratch out a victory by taking the lead in the top of the tenth. May was tasked with shutting the door, but was unable to do so. To be fair to May of course, the inning began with a runner on second. But with one out, May issued a walk to Pavin Smith to put the winning run on base. He then gave up a walk-off double to Josh Reddick that ended the game. The Mets challenged the play and May maintains that Reddick’s ball hit down the line was foul, but unfortunately for May and the Mets, the call on the field was upheld. May bounced back with an easy scoreless inning in Friday’s loss, but his outing yesterday did not go as smoothly. With the Mets leading by five runs in the ninth, he gave up two straight singles to lead off the inning. He did then retire the next three batters in a row to escape the jam of his own making with limited damage, but one run did score on a force out. So overall, of May’s four outings this week, one was a clean, 1-2-3 inning, but it came in a loss, two were innings in which he was scored upon, but it did not cost the Mets the game, and one was an outing in which he blew a save and took the loss. This is certainly a rocky period for the Mets’ setup man, who will hopefully have better results next week.
Of course, May was only in the position of having to protect a one-run lead in the tenth on Tuesday because Edwin Díaz had his first blown save of the season. With one out in the ninth inning and the Mets up 4-3, Díaz gave up a single to Nick Ahmed, who advanced to second on a Billy McKinney error. Díaz got the next batter to ground out, but then gave up two straight singles (which meant the run that scored would have scored regardless of the error and was therefore earned) before getting out of the inning. He was able to keep the tie game in tact, but it was still the outing that broke Díaz’s perfect streak in save situations. The rest of Díaz’s week went much better, however. He earned his tenth save of the season the very next day in Wednesday’s win and worked around a hit to pitch a scoreless ninth inning in a non-save situation on Saturday.
It was Miguel Castro who bailed out Trevor May on Monday in relief of deGrom when he was unable to put the seventh inning to bed. Castro retired the final batter of that inning and tossed a scoreless eighth as well, working around two hits. He also was part of the bullpen effort that resulted from David Peterson’s early exit on Wednesday, delivering two scoreless, hitless innings of work and earning the win for that outing. He also earned his fifth hold of the year with 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings of relief behind Marcus Stroman in yesterday’s game. For 4 2⁄3 total scoreless innings of work across three Mets victories, Castro earns himself a fireball in this week’s meter.
Despite Tuesday’s disappointing walk-off loss, Marcus Stroman still delivered two quality starts for the Mets this week. In fact, he held the Diamondbacks scoreless through five on Tuesday, but things unraveled quickly for him in the sixth. After two leadoff singles, he bounced back to retire the next batter via the strikeout (his sixth of the outing), but then he gave up a three-run homer to Pavin Smith to allow the Diamondbacks to pull within a run. Still, he left the game with a lead and gave the Mets a chance to win. He left with a much more comfortable lead in Sunday’s game, giving up just one unearned run in 6 2⁄3 innings of work. Although the unearned run was partially due to Stroman’s own error, Alonso’s error on the same play exacerbated the situation, allowing Fernando Tatis Jr. to advance and manufacture a run on his own. Stroman was far from perfect yesterday; he struggled with his command a bit at times, walking four batters. But he worked his way out of trouble each time, earning his fifth win of the season.
It was a mixed bag for Jeurys Familia this week, but there was more good than bad overall. He started off the week strong, delivering scoreless innings on consecutive days. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning in relief of deGrom on Monday to secure the victory, surrendering one hit and striking out two batters. He was then the first reliever to come in the game on Tuesday and protected the skinny one-run lead with a scoreless seventh inning, working around a walk to earn his fifth hold of the season. The one blemish on Familia’s week came in Friday night’s loss. With the Mets down by just one run, Familia came in to bail out a struggling Drew Smith in the seventh inning. With traffic on the bases, Familia walked two consecutive batters to force in a run and extend the Padres’ lead to 2-0. He did limit the damage to just the one run (which was charged to Smith), but walking in a run in a key spot is never a good look.
As for Drew Smith, that outing in which Familia allowed his inherited runner to score represents his only work for the week. After a smooth, scoreless sixth inning of work, Smith went back out for the seventh and got into trouble immediately. He gave up a leadoff double and then hit a batter with a pitch. Still, he nearly got out of the inning, thanks to a poorly executed bunt by Webster Rivas back to Smith, on which the Mets turned two. But then Smith walked the light-hitting rookie pinch hitter Tucupita Marcano and failed to put the inning to bed, and that ended his day. If Familia had managed to bail him out, it would have been a successful outing for Smith, but both pitchers suffered for their lack of control. That said, it was merely an insurance run for the Padres, who shut the Mets out entirely on Friday night.
And that’s a shame because Joey Lucchesi got the loss (his fourth of the season) even though he pitched really well on Friday. Lucchesi gave up a solo homer to Manny Machado in the first inning, but nothing else over 4 2⁄3 innings of work. He gave up four hits, struck out three, and didn’t walk anybody in a solid showing against his former club. With Syndergaard and Carrasco not due back now for some time, Lucchesi will remain a fixture in the Mets’ rotation.
With runners on second and third and two outs in the fifth inning of a one-run game on Friday, Luis Rojas called upon Jacob Barnes in relief of Lucchesi to record the final out. And he did so successfully, getting Tommy Pham to ground out to escape the jam and keep the Mets within a run. It was a strong week for Barnes, who delivered two scoreless innings in relief of Taijuan Walker in Thursday’s loss. He struck out two batters and gave up just one hit in that outing.
Taijuan Walker took the loss on Thursday for a mediocre outing. To be fair, he was not helped by the Mets’ defense, which is usually strong in his outings. Thanks to a Brandon Drury throwing error, only three of the four runs Walker surrendered in his five innings of work were earned, but he still gave up seven hits and walked four batters in the loss.
Aaron Loup put forth his second consecutive strong week of work, unscored upon in his two outings. With the Mets down a run on Thursday, he pitched a scoreless eighth inning following Barnes’ two scoreless innings to give the Mets a chance to come back and win (which they did not do). Loup also earned his sixth hold of the season for a scoreless eighth inning on Tuesday in relief of Stroman, protecting a one-run lead before things fell apart in the ninth and tenth.
Let’s get the ugly part of the meter out of the way now and discuss David Peterson’s outing on Wednesday, in which he was unable to get out the first inning for the second time this year. After the Mets jumped out to an early lead against Madison Bumgarner, Peterson immediately gave it all back and then some. There’s no way around it: it was ghastly. The outing went like this: walk, two-run homer, pop out, single, walk, walk, bases-loaded single. And just like that, the game was tied and Peterson was out of the game having retired just one batter. One could argue that the singles were not hit hard and they weren’t, but walks can be deadly and they certainly were for Peterson on Wednesday. It’s been an enigmatic season for Peterson, who sometimes looks sharp, but sometimes he has these outings that just balloon on him, just like Steven Matz before him. All told, this is fine for a fifth or sixth starter, but given the Mets’ injury situation, they are relying on Peterson for more than that and he hasn’t delivered. He will look to bounce back tomorrow against an Orioles team that is in the basement, but hits fairly well.
Robert Gsellman shouldered the heaviest burden of Peterson’s early exit. His 3 2⁄3 innings in relief of Peterson on Wednesday represent his only work for the week. He came in the game with runners on in the first inning and got his first batter to pop out for the second out, but then gave up an RBI single to the pitcher Madison Bumgarner to plate the go-ahead run (which was charged to Peterson). However, Gsellman did put the inning to bed after that and completely shut the Diamondbacks down over the next three frames, giving up just one more hit over that span. Gsellman’s strong outing on Wednesday was a big part of the Mets’ victory.
Wednesday was also Seth Lugo’s return from the injured list and his first outing of 2021. After a quick 1-2-3 fifth inning, Lugo gave up the tying run in the sixth inning on three straight hits to lead off the frame. He limited the damage, however, thanks in part to Tim Locastro lining into a double play on a bunt attempt. Lugo’s other outing this week went much more smoothly. He earned his first hold of the season for a scoreless eighth inning in relief of deGrom on Saturday, working around a hit and striking out two batters. With Lugo back in the bullpen, a strength of the roster is fortified even further, allowing Luis Rojas many weapons to deploy in high leverage situations.