Avert your eyes, citizens. This week’s pitching meter is an ugly sight to behold. At first glance, it may not appear so because there aren’t a lot of red down arrows to be found. But that’s because there are two poop emojis here and red crosses that might otherwise be poop emojis. And honestly, it is only because of my mercy and benevolence that there aren’t more poop emojis. The fact that the Mets lost a game 20-2 this week has a lot to do with this, but that game alone does not explain away this entire meter. Because the Mets played many games without a day off, once again had a doubleheader this week, and continue to sustain pitching injuries, Tylor Megill, Corey Oswalt, and Jerad Eickhoff all made starts this week to varying degrees of success. Taijuan Walker put forth yet another solid effort and after a rocky beginning, Jacob deGrom settled in to give the Mets a quality start. Marcus Stroman and David Peterson both had stinkers this week, although the latter was much stinkier. Miguel Castro had a historically bad week, but outside of that the bullpen was mostly solid, bolstered by the return of Jeruys Familia from the injured list.
Let’s peel the bandage off and start with David Peterson’s horrific outing in the 20-2 loss to the Braves on Wednesday. He had strung together a few good starts in a row and seemed to be turning the corner, but unfortunately he hit a massive brick wall on Wednesday. All told, he gave up six runs on eight hits in just three innings of work, unable to record an out in the fourth. He struck out two batters and walked one. However, how much of his poor performance was due to the discomfort he was feeling in his side is unclear. That discomfort caused him to leave the game early and he was later diagnosed with an oblique strain, which has landed him on the injured list for what will likely be a lengthy period of time. It’s a huge blow to the Mets’ rotation, which is barely hanging by a thread as it is.
Wednesday’s suffering did not end with Peterson though. No, sir. Both Sean Reid-Foley and the newly recalled Thomas Szapucki both got smacked around by the Braves as well. To be fair to Reid-Foley, he inherited a pretty bad situation, but he made it much worse and he ultimately failed to get out of the inning as well. He gave up five runs, three of them earned, in just 1⁄3 of an inning of work. But the unearned runs came because of his own throwing error. Reid-Foley did have another outing this week; he pitched a scoreless inning in Monday’s game. Just yesterday, he was placed on the injured list with elbow inflammation and replaced on the roster by Yennsy Díaz, who did not pitch this week. With Reid-Foley failing to do his job, Szapucki made his major league debut under less than ideal circumstances. He poured gasoline on an already blazing fire, giving up six additional runs in 3 2⁄3 innings of work. He threw two pitches so wild that they bounced off the backstop back toward him, one of which resulted in the runner being tagged out at home that finally ended the fourth inning. On Friday, he was optioned back to Syracuse. One can’t help but feel Szapucki was fed to the wolves for his debut, but it probably says something about where he is (or isn’t) in the Mets’ circle of trust that so many others were ahead of him in the pecking order before he finally got a shot.
One of those others was Jerad Eickhoff, who was coming off a decent outing in his first start. His second start on Monday did not go as well. He gave up four home runs to the Nationals, who seemed to hit nearly every pitch he threw over 100 mph, including two to the now injured Kyle Schwarber and one to the light-hitting Gerardo Parra. He did manage to eat up six innings, which was desperately needed length for the Mets and that is what helps him avoid joining the others in poop emoji land. But the start was still bad enough that when the Mets called up Szapucki later in the week, Eickhoff was designated for assignment.
The Mets actually very nearly came back on Monday despite the deficit Eickhoff handed them. They pulled within a run, but then the start of Miguel Castro’s Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Week struck. After a walk and an error put two men on base, Castro gave up a pinch hit, three-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman that stuck a fork in the Mets on Monday. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there for Castro this week. After the Mets opened up a very nice 8-0 cushion against the Yankees on Saturday, Castro came in the game to relieve Taijuan Walker in the sixth inning and almost let the Yankees back in the game. With a man on and two out, Castro immediately hit the first batter he faced with a pitch and then walked the next batter to load the bases. He then gave up a two-run single to Gio Urshela and suddenly the Yankees looked poised for a big inning. To avoid that, Luis Rojas came with the quick hook, pulling Castro from the game in favor of Jeurys Familia, who was able to record the final out. Thus, Castro was charged with a run (the other run was charged to Walker) without recording an out in that outing. Then, in the fifth inning of the nightcap on Sunday, Castro was brought in to bail out Aaron Loup and failed to do so, throwing a wild pitch that scored a run before finally recording the final out of the inning. One hopes this is just a blip on the radar for Castro, who has been so reliable out of the Mets bullpen this year. However, Castro has looked shaky since MLB’s crackdown on sticky substances and the fear is that this is affecting his performance.
I mentioned Aaron Loup’s failure to do his job in the fifth inning on Sunday; he was brought in to relieve Corey Oswalt and recorded one out before walking two straight batters, necessitating his removal from the game. That was his only work for the week.
One of the bright spots this week is that Jeurys Familia had a strong first week back from the injured list. I already mentioned that Familia bailed out Miguel Castro on Saturday to stop the bleeding and avoid letting the Yankees get back in the game. He went on to pitch a scoreless seventh as well and struck out three batters total in the outing. He then earned the win in Game 1 of Sunday’s doubleheader with a scoreless sixth inning of work, working around a hit and striking out two.
That inning came in relief of Marcus Stroman, who had a second consecutive shaky start. Stroman gave up five runs on six hits in five innings of work. To be fair to Stroman, only three of those runs were earned because Francisco Lindor made a costly fielding error trying to turn a double play. That said, Stroman really didn’t pitch well. He wasn’t missing bats; he didn’t strike out any Yankees hitters in the outing. Luckily for him though, the Mets came back to win the game.
It was Seth Lugo who pitched the final inning of Game 1 on Sunday to secure the victory. He set the Yankees down in order with one strikeout. Lugo began his week by earning his fifth hold of the season with a scoreless eighth inning in Tuesday’s game. However, it was Lugo who gave up the walk-off single to Freddie Freeman in Thursday’s loss after a two-out walk to Ender Inciarte came back to bite him.
It’s a shame that Jacob deGrom’s start this week ended with a walk-off loss. But it was deGrom’s oddest outing of the year. It was the first time he gave up three runs all season, but he also struck out fourteen batters over his seven innings of work. All of the runs off deGrom came in the first inning, two of them on an Austin Riley homer. It’s a surreal experience watching a home run off deGrom—any home run—let alone a crooked number off deGrom. But, he settled in and went six scoreless after that and looked as dominant as ever.
Sandwiched between deGrom’s start and Lugo’s rough outing on Thursday was a clutch outing from Trevor May in which he loaded the bases in the eighth inning, but got a key strikeout of Dansby Swanson to escape the jam and keep the Mets close. It was an excellent week for May overall—the second such week in a row. May also earned his sixth hold of the season for a 1-2-3 seventh inning on Tuesday with a strikeout and he pitched a 1-2-3 top of the seventh with two strikeouts in Game 2 on Sunday.
Unfortunately, the Mets could not break through against Nestor Cortes and Chad Green had a dominant outing on Sunday evening, all of which resulted in Corey Oswalt taking the loss for his effort in that contest. Oswalt’s pitching line looks worse than his performance actually was—three runs on four hits in four innings of work. Those three runs came on a Gio Urshela three-run homer that the very definition of a Yankee Stadium homer. Still, they all count the same. But Oswalt has comported himself well enough to earn more starts moving forward with David Peterson sidelined.
Speaking of comporting himself well enough to earn more starts moving forward, Tylor Megill is more or less the fourth starter now. The only runs off Megill in Tuesday’s victory came on a three-run homer off the bat of Ozzie Albies. And well, Tylor Megill is not the first pitcher to give up a three-run homer to Ozzie Albies and nor will he be the last. In all, Megill threw five innings, giving up the three runs and striking out a very impressive eight batters; it was enough for the Mets to win the game on Tuesday. Megill’s strikeout totals are as advertised and the reason he earned his promotion to the big leagues.
In addition to Lugo and May earning holds, both Drew Smith and Edwin Díaz contributed out of the bullpen to Tuesday’s victory. Díaz earned his 17th save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, representing his only work for the week. Smith followed Megill by pitching a scoreless sixth, working around two walks. He earned his third win of the season for the effort. Smith also pitched the last two innings of Saturday’s game, retiring the final six Yankees in order and striking out two. It’s the second strong week in a row for Drew Smith, who might see more multi-inning appearances moving forward, given the state of the Mets’ pitching staff.
Smith finishing out the game helped Taijuan Walker on his way to his seventh win of the season. Walker was fantastic, holding the Yankees hitless over his first five innings of work before snapping the hitless and scoreless streak by giving up a solo homer to Aaron Judge in the sixth. He clearly was tiring at that point and gave up a two-out single before Luis Rojas decided his day was done. But it was yet another fantastic outing for Walker, who probably got snubbed out of a spot on the All-Star roster, but may yet end up with a slot.