Other than two lopsided victories on Tuesday and Friday, every game the Mets played was decided by one run this week. And besides yesterday’s game, the Mets lost all of those one-run decisions. For this, blame can be partially placed on the offense for not scoring enough, but the bullpen also had a very mixed bag of a week. Although this meter does not look that bad, these poor bullpen performances are often balanced by good ones by the same pitchers, leading to the many side arrows that appear on the meter. But, with the exception of Taijuan Walker logging his second poor week in a row, the starting rotation had an excellent week and both Tylor Megill and Rich Hill tossed arguably their best games as Mets this week.
Since I mentioned Tylor Megill and Rich Hill, let’s begin with that pair of pitchers, who both had standout performances this week. Megill earned the victory for his performance on Friday, in which he held a powerful Yankee lineup to just two runs on four hits over seven innings of work. Not only is seven innings the deepest he’s gone into a game as a big leaguer, the ten strikeouts he amassed are also a career high for him. Megill’s performance was perhaps somewhat lost amidst the fun theatrics from the bats on Friday night, but after giving up a solo home run to Joey Gallo in the second inning, he was brilliant the rest of the way and deserves an immense amount of credit for what he was able to achieve in his biggest start as a Met yet.
Megill was relieved on Friday by Heath Hembree and Yennsy Díaz and for both of those relievers, Friday was their only appearance for the week. Hembree gave up back-to-back one-out singles in the eighth, but ultimately tossed a scoreless frame, as he continues to shine as a Met. Díaz surrendered what was ultimately a meaningless solo homer to Anthony Rizzo to lead off the ninth inning, but then retired the next three batters in order to secure the lopsided victory for the Mets.
Rich Hill also had an excellent performance this week, but his is perhaps even more so doomed to the realm of the forgotten appearances because it came in a Mets loss. Unfortunately the Mets gave Hill just one (1) run of support on Wednesay. But one (1) run is all Hill gave up to the Marlins over six innings of work on five hits. Normally a five and dive guy, a quality start was a huge performance from Hill and he racked up eight strikeouts—also a very high total for him. Hill just happened to be matched up against Sandy Alcantara on his very best night and was let down by his bullpen.
So let’s start with Wednesday’s extra-inning loss with regard to this week’s bullpen blunders, in which Edwin Díaz took the loss. To be fair to Díaz, Luis Rojas’ decision to pitch to Bryan De La Cruz in the tenth with two outs was criminal and the run—the free runner that started the inning on second base—was unearned for Díaz. But, it was the second walk-off loss in a row that came at the hands of the Mets’ closer. For Monday’s performance from Díaz, there are no such excuses. He blew a one-run lead and dealt the Mets a crushing loss to the Nationals on Monday—his sixth blown save of the season. But, Díaz redeemed himself in the biggest of spots in yesterday’s game, protecting the one-run lead granted by Francisco Lindor’s third home run of the game and shutting the door on the Yankees to earn his 29th save of the season. Yesterday’s performance allows Díaz to escape a bad grade for the week.
In addition to Hill and Megill’s strong performances this week, Marcus Stroman delivered yet another quality start this week, which also came in a one-run loss. Stroman held the Marlins scoreless over his first five innings of work, yielding just one run in the sixth—the only run he gave up over his 6 1⁄3 total innings of work. Stroman struck out eight Marlins and walked none in the start. Like Hill, Stroman was let down by his bullpen and his offense on Thursday.
In the case of Thursday’s loss, Brad Hand and Jeurys Familia—who both had up and down weeks—both contributed poor performances. Hand came in to relieve Stroman with one out in the seventh inning to protect a one-run lead with a runner on base. The runner Hand inherited from Stroman was erased on a caught stealing, but Hand still allowed the tying run to score anyway on two singles. But Hand appeared in five games this week total—the most of anyone on the staff—and it was truly a rollercoaster week for him. He began the week with earning his second hold of the season by tossing a scoreless seventh inning in protection of a one-run lead in Monday’s loss. He followed that up with a scoreless eighth inning in Tuesday’s victory. Then came Thursday’s hiccup. Then on Saturday he pitched a scoreless top of the ninth with the Mets down a run. But then of course he ended his week yesterday by surrendering a game-tying home run to Giancarlo Stanton.
In both games where Hand performed poorly, Familia performed poorly as well. It was Familia who gave up the go-ahead (and ultimately) decisive home run to Jazz Chisolm Jr. in the eighth inning of Thursday’s one-run loss. Familia also gave up a two-run homer to Gleyber Torres in the sixth inning of yesterday’s game that allowed the Yankees to pull within a run. He then walked Gary Sanchez on four pitches to put the tying run on base, needing to be bailed out of the inning by Miguel Castro. But, along with Hand, Familia was part of a string of relievers that protected a one-run lead in Monday’s game prior to the Díaz blown save. He earned his tenth hold of the year for that effort. Familia also tossed a scoreless seventh inning in relief of Rich Hill in a tie game on Wednesday. So overall, he earns the side arrow for two good performances and two bad ones this week.
Along with Familia and Hand, Seth Lugo also contributed a scoreless inning in Monday’s game, working around a hit and a walk to earn his twelfth hold of the season for his work in the eighth inning. Unlike the other two relievers though, Lugo had a clean sheet for the whole week and therefore earns an up arrow for his efforts. Lugo also managed to wriggle his way out of a bases-loaded jam of his own making in the ninth inning of a tie game on Wednesday, preserving the tie and sending the game to extras. Over the weekend, Lugo pitched back-to-back 1-2-3 innings on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, he protected what was a one-run lead at the time in the seventh inning to earn his thirteenth hold of the season and in yesterday’s game, he earned the victory (his fourth of the season) for his scoreless eighth inning, which was complete with two strikeouts.
Monday’s heartbreaker began with a solid start from Trevor Williams, who gave the Mets about all you could ask of him in the spot start. He navigated lots of traffic on the base paths; he gave up ten hits, but was able to expertly navigate through and limit the damage to just two runs over his five innings of work. He struck out three batters and walked two in the outing. Of course, the ultimate result of Monday’s game was unfortunate, partially because Patrick Corbin’s start very much mirrored Williams’ where the Mets strung together some hits, but could not take advantage of opportunities to build big innings. But Williams did his job, as he has done during pretty much his entire tenure as a Met thus far.
Like much of the rest of the bullpen this week, Trevor May had one good performance and one bad one, but his bad one was sufficiently bad enough that the good performance does not allow him to escape the down arrow this week. May’s positive performance came in Tuesday’s victory, when he worked around two hits to pitch a scoreless seventh inning, striking out two batters in the process. But, May entered Saturday’s game in the eighth inning tasked with protecting a two-run lead and ultimately was unable to retire a batter. He gave up a leadoff single to Brett Gardner, followed by the fateful game-tying home run to Aaron Judge. He then gave up another single to Giancarlo Stanton before being removed from the game.
Aaron Loup then came in the game to face Anthony Rizzo and successfully retired him, but then gave up another single to Gleyber Torres. Still, he induced a grounder from Luke Voit, but Javy Báez committed a costly error on an attempt to turn two, allowing the go-ahead run to score. That run appears on May’s ledger, but it is unearned. Loup held the Yankees there, striking out Kyle Higashioka to record the final out. So although Loup left the game on Saturday with the Mets down a run, he still did his job, more or less, with the blame for that inning resting on the shoulders of Trevor May. Loup’s other outings this week went more smoothly. He began his week earning his 16th hold of the season for a scoreless sixth inning in relief of Carlos Carrasco in Tuesday’s victory. He was also part of the trio of relievers that held the Marlins at bay on Wednesday before the extra-inning loss, working around two hits to pitch a scoreless eighth inning in a tie game.
Although Carlos Carrasco routinely gives up a run (and often multiple runs) in the first inning of his starts, he has settled into a pattern of pitching like an ace after the first inning and keeping the Mets in the game. And the Mets ultimately won both games he pitched this week. Carrasco gave up four runs over five innings of work in his start on Tuesday, but it was a sloppy game on both sides and each team committed three errors. Therefore, only one of Carrasco’s four runs was earned. Luckily, his offense showed up for him and the Mets were able to pull off a pretty decisive victory. Yesterday’s victory was obviously by a narrower margin, but Carrasco pitched better yesterday than he did on Tuesday. After an ugly first inning that featured two walks, a double, and a sacrifice fly, Carrasco completely shut down the Yankees after that, giving up just the two runs over five innings of work. He struck out five batters and walked four in the outing. The main issue with Carrasco’s rocky first innings that have become routine is that they run up his pitch count and prevent him from going deep into games. But otherwise, it was a positive week for him.
It was also a positive week for Miguel Castro, who appeared in relief in both of Carrasco’s start—his only two appearances for the week. In Tuesday’s victory, Castro closed things out for the Mets with a 1-2-3 ninth inning complete with a strikeout to secure the win. In the aftermath of Familia’s rough appearance yesterday, Castro came in the game to bail him out with the tying run on base and one out. He struck out two consecutive Yankees to put the inning to bed. He came back out to start the seventh inning, but gave up a leadoff single to D.J. LeMahieu, who came around to score on the game-tying home run surrendered by Brad Hand. Although one of those runs was charged to Castro, his Houdini act in the sixth inning outweighs that leadoff single in the seventh in my view and combined with his 1-2-3 inning earlier in the week, he earns the up arrow.
The same cannot be said for Taijuan Walker though, unfortunately. Walker earns his second straight down arrow and this time it was the big inning that plagued him. Walker continues to be bit by the long ball and this time those were all concentrated in a single inning. He gave up long balls to Higashioka, Gardner, and Judge in the second inning on Saturday that gave the Yankees a 5-0 early lead. To Walker’s credit, he settled down after that as the Mets chipped away at the lead and what looked like a potential blowout ended up being a close game. Walker struck out eight batters and walked one in the outing. Giving up three home runs in a five-run inning is bad no matter how you slice it, but Walker avoids the poop emoji treatment by going on to give the Mets six innings of work on a night when it looked like he was destined for an early exit.