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Mets Player Performance Meter: Pitchers, August 30-September 5

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A quick review of how the Mets’ pitchers fared over the past week.

Miami Marlins v New York Mets Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Honestly, given the fact that the Mets blew a nine-run lead in a game this week, I thought this meter would be worse. And trust me, I felt very tempted to give those involved worse grades, but as is case many weeks with members of the bullpen, the poor performances are usually balanced with one or more good ones. This emphasizes a theme that we’ve seen all year: the pitching staff rarely fails as a group. There are individual failures and bad patches, but luckily this rarely happens for whole swaths of the pitching staff at a time. And because the offense was able to provide the staff with run support this week, the Mets were in every game, even the high scoring ones.

As usual, since there isn’t a whole lot of bad news to focus on, we’ll get that out of the way first. Taijuan Walker had a bad week. I was tempted to give him a poop emoji for it, but the Mets won both games he pitched this week, so that hardly seemed fair. Still, he made it a hard road for them. Walker appeared in two games this week. Technically, his first appearance was not a start because it came in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, which was a resumption of the suspended game from April 11, which was started by Marcus Stroman, who recorded the first out of that game. Walker went 4 23 innings, finishing up the first inning and then pitching four more innings and gave up three runs on seven hits, striking out six and walking none. So this was at least a so-so outing, but navigating traffic on the base paths meant that Walker was unable to go very deep in the game. But the down-arrow performance from Walker was really Sunday’s game. The Mets immediately handed Walker a 4-0 lead in the first inning. He nearly gave it all back in the bottom of the first. The Mets extended their lead to 6-3. And Walker coughed it back up with four straight hits and a wild pitch that forced in the tying run, unable to get out of the fifth inning. All told, he gave up six runs on six hits (including two home runs) in 4 13 innings of work, striking out six Nationals and walking three. The Mets bailed Walker out with a huge ninth inning offensively off the Nationals’ bullpen, but Walker needs to do better, especially when handed multiple leads over the course of the game.

The other person that could have conceivably earned a down arrow for this week is Miguel Castro because he was a big part of the blown nine-run lead in the day game of Saturday’s doubleheader. Castro came in the game in the sixth inning with the Mets still up by six runs and to be fair to him, the Nationals’ rally did begin with a fielding error by Francisco Lindor. But Castro let the inning balloon on him, giving up three straight hits to shrink that lead to to just four runs. He could not finish the inning and was removed from the game and the runners he left on base in his wake would also come around to score, meaning he was charged with four runs (but only three of them earned) in just 13 of an inning. That performance alone is of course poop emoji worthy. But Castro appeared in two other games this week and contributed to Mets wins in both of them. In Tuesday’s thrilling come from behind victory against the Marlins, Castro threw two scoreless innings of relief in the seventh and eighth innings, without which the Mets’ magical walk-off would not have been possible. Castro also was part of a collectively stellar bullpen performance on Sunday, pitching a scoreless sixth inning in a tie game.

Brad Hand, who the Mets picked up on Thursday after he was released by the Blue Jays, made his first Mets appearance in an attempt to stop the bleeding that Castro started on Saturday. Unfortunately, he gave up a two-run single to Juan Soto that shrunk the Mets’ lead to just two runs. Both of those runs were charged to Castro. It’s probably unfair to slap a down arrow on Hand for this since he came into a tough spot and it was Literally Juan Soto. And he did induce an inning-ending double play that allowed the Mets to escape the inning with the lead still (barely) in tact, so he gets a side arrow in his first meter.

Meanwhile, next on the list of goats for Saturday’s near-disaster is Seth Lugo, who allowed a game-tying home run to Andrew Stevenson in the seventh inning of Game 1 of that doubleheader. But, like Castro, he avoids the down arrow because his other appearances this week were good ones. In the nightcap of Tuesday’s doubleheader, Lugo earned his tenth hold of the season for a scoreless sixth inning, working around a hit and a walk and striking out two batters. He followed that up with his eleventh hold of the season on Friday, working a scoreless seventh in that victory.

The tumultuous journey that was Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader began with Marcus Stroman on the mound and his start was...meh. Given a big lead early, Stroman put up zeros for the first three innings, but was not economic, navigating traffic on the base paths in every inning. This finally came back to bite him in the fourth when he allowed three straight singles and walked the next batter to force in a run. Stroman did well to retire the next three batters in order, but the first two were flyouts deep enough to advance the runners and the Nationals dropped a three spot on him that inning. Stroman bounced back in the fifth with his first 1-2-3 inning of the day and left with a still very sizeable lead, having done enough to help the Mets win. But it wasn’t exactly a shutdown outing for Stroman and his high pitch count prevented him from trying for the quality start.

After the blowup in the middle innings in Game 1 on Saturday, the relievers that were tasked with the later innings in a tie game got the job done. One of them was Trevor May, who had a strong week overall. He worked the eighth inning of what was then a tie game in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader and with one out, the Mets chose (probably correctly) to issue the intentional pass to Juan Soto. But May pushed that go-ahead run into scoring position by subsequently walking Josh Bell (unintentionally). May was able to wriggle out of it though, striking out Gerardo Parra and getting Keibert Ruiz to fly out to end the inning. May earned his twelfth hold of the season for a scoreless eighth inning of work in Thursday’s victory. He then followed Saturday’s performance with a scoreless eighth inning on Sunday, notching his thirteenth hold of the season.

After the Mets took the lead again in the top of the ninth on Saturday thanks to Francisco Lindor’s home run, it was Heath Hembree who was tasked with saving the game for the Mets in his biggest appearance in a Mets uniform yet. He delivered, tossing a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his first save as a Met and his ninth save overall on the season. Unfortunately, Hembree’s other outing this week did not go as well. In the sixth inning of Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader (the resumption of the suspended game), he walked two batters and gave up a two-run double to Jesus Aguilar, thus extending the Marlins’ lead to 5-1. However, because the Mets ultimately came back to win that game in such exciting fashion, I will choose to put more weight on the clutch save from Hembree and call the week an overall positive for him.

The bullpen hero award for this week, though, goes to Jeurys Familia, who I very nearly awarded a fireball to this week. In Tuesday’s victory, following Castro’s two scoreless innings, Familia contributed a 1-2-3 ninth inning with two strikeouts and went on to earn the win after the Mets’ thrilling comeback. He then earned yet another win (his ninth of the season) in Thursday’s victory for a 1-2-3 seventh inning, also complete with two strikeouts. He closed things out for the Mets on Friday night, pitching a scoreless bottom of the tenth inning after the Mets took the lead in extras. Finally, he capped off his week with arguably his heaviest lift yet. With Taijuan Walker having melted down in the fifth inning on Sunday, allowing the Nationals to tie the game, Familia came into the tie game with two on and two outs to get. He struck out Carter Kieboom to start off the outing, but then unfortunately hit Andrew Stevenson with a pitch to load the bases. But then he registered a king-sized strikeout of Riley Adams to end the inning with the game still tied.

The bullpen kept it that way, allowing the Mets to explode in the ninth to win the game. Yennsy Díaz closed the game out for the Mets in his only appearance this week. Aaron Loup earned the win (his fifth of the season) for a scoreless seventh inning of work alongside Castro and May’s contributions. It was Loup’s second win of the week. He began his week by coming in to relieve Trevor Williams in the fifth inning of Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader. He walked the first batter he faced, but then induced an inning-ending double play. Unfortunately, in the Mets’ next game on Thursday, he was also asked to finish an inning for his starting pitcher and this time it did not go as well. With two on and one out in the sixth, Loup came in to relieve Carlos Carrasco and walked two straight batters to force in the tying run. He did stop the bleeding there by retiring the next two batters, but that was a hiccup in his otherwise good week. Loup bounced back to earn his fifteenth hold of the season with a scoreless eighth inning on Friday, protecting a two-run lead.

Unfortunately, Edwin Díaz failed to protect that same two-run lead in the ninth on Friday and blew a save—his fifth blown save of the season. He allowed a solo homer to Juan Soto to lead off the inning, bounced back to strike out Josh Bell, but then walked Ryan Zimmerman and allowed a double to Riley Adams, which tied the game. Díaz avoided the walk-off loss by retiring the next two batters to escape with the game still tied, which ironically earned him a win after the Mets took the lead in the tenth and held onto it thanks to Familia, but it was not a good performance from Díaz. The rest of Díaz’s week, however, was positive. He earned saves in back-to-back games in the nightcap on Tuesday and in Thursday’s victory. On Tuesday night, he tossed a 1-2-3 seventh (and final) inning with two strikeouts and on Thursday he did the same, notching his 28th save of the year.

Díaz’s blown save on Friday robbed Rich Hill of what would have been a very nice win for him. In his best start as a Met, Hill pitched six scoreless innings against the Nationals. He gave up just three hits, struck out four batters, and walked two. He needed just 85 pitches to complete the quality start—his finest work in a Mets uniform so far.

Speaking of fine work in a Mets uniform, Trevor Williams filled in admirably in his spot start in Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader. He didn’t pitch deep enough into the game to earn a win (that was awarded to Loup), but he limited the Marlins to one run on four hits over 4 13 innings of work. He struck out four batters and walked none in the outing.

Díaz’s 28th save came in relief of Carlos Carrasco, who delivered a solid performance on Thursday. As is seemingly the theme in his outings, he looked shaky early, but then settled in nicely. Three straight hits (including a leadoff home run) put the Marlins up 2-0 right away in the first inning, but Carrasco retired the next twelve batters he faced, holding the Marlins there through the fifth. Due to Loup’s wildness with men on in the sixth, Carrasco was ultimately charged with three runs over his 5 13 innings of work. He struck out five batters and walked one.

Tylor Megill is all by himself on box score for Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader, having pitched all six innings of that loss. Unfortunately, with the Mets’ Game 2 lineup lacking Lindor and Báez, it couldn’t muster the firepower it did the rest of the week and Megill took the loss for a pretty solid effort. He was bit by the long ball in the outing; three of the four runs he gave up came via the home run. Overall, he gave up four runs on seven hits total, but struck out eight batters and walked only one. Although nothing spectacular, it was certainly a bounce back outing given his performance in the previous meter and he certainly kept the Mets in a position to win the game if the offense could have pulled through for him.