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Mets Player Performance Meter: Pitchers, April 18-24

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

MLB: Game Two-San Francisco Giants at New York Mets Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The story of the first ten games of the season was the Mets’ starting rotation persevering, despite injuries to Jacob deGrom and Taijuan Walker. That continues to be the case. Although a couple of Mets starters had their first hiccups of the season this week, the starting pitching as a collective remains very strong. The Mets hold a 2.78 staff ERA for the season, which is the fourth-best mark in baseball. If you look at just the starting pitchers, the Mets have a 2.46 ERA, which is the third-best mark in baseball. Both of the Mets’ losses this week came because of poor starting pitching performances, but Saturday’s loss was a spot start by Trevor Williams, who hopefully will not be relied upon to start too many games this season. Friday night’s game featured a bullpen meltdown and was a near-disaster similar to the series opener against the Phillies last week, but this time the Mets were able to overcome the poor relief pitching and eke out a victory regardless. Luckily most of the poor performances from the bullpen for the week were concentrated in that one game and the bullpen was otherwise solid this week.

Max Scherzer has been great in a Mets uniform so far, but his start in Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader was the first one that felt like vintage Scherzer. He was simply operating on a different level on Tuesday than in his first two starts and his stuff was firing on all cylinders. Scherzer gave up just one run on one hit and three walks over seven innings of work while striking out ten Giants hitters. The fact that Scherzer was able to go deep into the game and save the bullpen after an extra-inning game in Game 1 was crucial and the fact that he did it against a potent Giants lineup makes it even more impressive. There’s not much more to say. It was an ace-level performance that earns him a fireball this week—hopefully the first of many.

In relief of Scherzer in Game 2 on Tuesday, Drew Smith worked around a one-out single to pitch a scoreless eighth inning. It was another strong week for Smith. He only appeared in one other game this week. After the cruising David Peterson gave up a two-out double in the fifth inning of Friday’s game, Smith came in and got a big out in Ketel Marte to play a role in that victory.

Trevor May earned his first save of the season by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning in relief of Scherzer in Game 2 on Tuesday, complete with a strikeout. His other appearance this week did not go as smoothly, however. In Friday’s game, May was right in the middle of the bullpen meltdown that nearly cost the Mets the game. With the DBacks rallying in the seventh inning, May came in the game with two outs to face the pinch hitter David Peralta and retired him successfully to get out of that jam with the Mets’ lead still in tact. However, for the second time this season he was asked to sit down and then get up again to start a second inning of work and it once again did not go well. May gave up a well-struck double and a two-run homer to Christian Walker that allowed the Diamondbacks to pull within a run. The pitch that Walker put just to the right of the left field foul pole was actually a good inside pitch from May that Walker did well to turn on, but bad results are bad results. At least in the early going, May has done much better when starting an inning, rather than finishing an inning and then getting asked to subsequently get more outs.

The mess that May had to clean up in the seventh inning on Friday night was that of Chasen Shreve who had himself his first bad outing of the season. Shreve gave up two hits and a sacrifice fly to get the Diamondbacks going in the late innings on Friday. However, he did pitch a scoreless seventh inning in relief of Chris Bassitt in Wednesday’s loss.

Despite the shaky relief appearances from May and Shreve on Friday night, the Mets still went into the ninth inning with a one-run lead, which Edwin Díaz was tasked with protecting. It was only Díaz’s second save opportunity of the year—in part because he missed a little bit of time on the bereavement list. Almost all his outings had come in non-save situations prior to Friday night’s game and he has pitched well overall. He even did look sharp on Friday, but as is often the case with Díaz, he made one mistake and got burned. He hung a slider to Daulton Varsho and gave up a game-tying home run. Díaz ended up getting the win for that effort, as the Mets were able to take the lead in the top of the tenth and hold on to win the game. Díaz did, however, pitch a scoreless ninth inning in a tie game in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, which helped set the stage for the Mets’ thrilling victory in that contest. Díaz also pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning in a non-save situation on Thursday with two strikeouts.

All of those poor performances on Friday came in relief of David Peterson, who did not have a poor performance. He had a great performance. Peterson gave up just one run on three hits in 5 23 strong innings of work. He induced soft contact all night to the tune of ten ground ball outs. He struck out three Diamondbacks and walked one in the outing. Unfortunately, his bullpen let him down, but the Mets were still able to win the game and Peterson was a big part of that. Despite filling in admirably for the injured Taijuan Walker, Peterson was sent to Triple A Syracuse on Saturday because the Mets needed an extra relief pitcher and everyone else that may conceivably be cut from the roster in the near future is out of options. The Mets made it clear that this move is temporary and Peterson will be back to pitch in the next scheduled doubleheader on May 3 against the Braves.

There was one bright spot among the relief performances on Friday though and that was Seth Lugo’s tenth inning. After the Mets took the lead in the top of the tenth, Lugo had to protect a one-run lead with the free runner at second base. He struck out the first two batters he faced. He then issued a walk, but got would-be hero Christian Walker to pop out to end the game. Lugo earned his first save of the season with that performance, which was arguably his best of 2022 so far. It was a huge bounce back week for the struggling Lugo; he was unscored upon in any of his three appearances this week. Despite giving up two hits, he pitched a scoreless eighth inning in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader. He also earned his third hold of the season with 1 13 scoreless innings of work in yesterday’s victory.

Speaking of bounce back weeks, the other rebound candidate out of the bullpen this week is Joely Rodríguez, who like Lugo had been struggling, but had a clean sheet across all four of his appearances this week. His week began with a 1-2-3 scoreless seventh inning in relief of Tylor Megill in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader as part of that collectively fantastic performance by the bullpen. He followed that with a key final out in the eighth inning of Thursday’s victory, retiring Brandon Belt in relief of Carlos Carrasco. He also worked around a walk to pitch a scoreless inning in Saturday’s loss and came back the next day to close out yesterday’s victory with a 1-2-3 ninth complete with two strikeouts.

Besides Scherzer’s beast of a performance in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the other standout starting pitching performance of the week goes to Carlos Carrasco, who earns the fireball for his incredible early season turnaround. Carrasco was one out away from completing eight innings of work when he gave up a solo homer to Mike Yastrzemski, which ended his day. However, that was essentially the one blemish on an otherwise brilliant outing for Carrasco, who gave up two runs on four hits in 7 23 innings of work with seven strikeouts and no walks. With that performance, he earned his first win of the 2022 season. With each successive start, Carrasco is looking more and more like the pitcher he was in Cleveland.

In contrast, Chris Bassitt had his first poor start of 2022 this week. He gave up five runs on eight hits and took the loss on Wednesday in the Mets’ only loss in the Giants series. However, Bassitt still did manage to strike out six batters and complete six innings of work, doing his best to preserve an overworked bullpen.

Sean Reid-Foley took the bulk of the work relieving Bassitt, pitching two scoreless innings on Wednesday with a walk and three strikeouts. It was a good week for Reid-Foley, which perhaps went unnoticed since his two appearances this week came in Mets losses. But neither was Reid-Foley’s fault. Reid-Foley was tasked with long relief and mop-up duty in Saturday’s bullpen game. He did give up a double in the third inning that allowed an inherited runner to score, but held the fort after that, going 2 23 innings in total. He walked two and struck out one in the outing. He left the game early due to leg cramping, but felt better after getting IV fluids and should avoid the injured list.

Saturday’s loss is mostly placed on the shoulders of Trevor Williams, who started the game and unfortunately did not pitch well. Williams gave up four runs on seven hits and only lasted two innings. He took the loss, his second loss of the season.

If there was one silver lining from Saturday’s game, it was the performance of Adonis Medina, who was the pitcher called up by the Mets when Peterson was sent down to Triple A. The Mets acquired Medina earlier this month on waivers from the Pirates. Medina pitched the eighth inning on Saturday and looked very impressive, striking out the side. Unfortunately for Medina, he was rewarded for that performance by being sent back down to Triple A yesterday in favor of Yoan López, but such is the life of an optionable arm. If nothing else, Saturday was an encouraging sign that Medina is someone the Mets can turn to in the future if they need extra bullpen help.

Since the Mets bunched more or less all of their bad bullpen performances into Friday and Saturday’s games, it stands to reason that Adam Ottavino had one good outing this week and one bad one and the bad one came on Saturday. After Reid-Foley departed the game on Saturday, Ottavino gave up a hit to the first batter he faced with two outs in the fifth inning, but then bounced back to strike out the next batter. His troubles came in the sixth inning when he was sent back out for a second inning of work and gave up a triple to Geraldo Perdomo, who was driven in on a sacrifice fly to charge a run to Ottavino’s ledger. He did limit the damage by bouncing back to end his outing with a strikeout. Ottavino was much more impressive in the tenth inning of Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader when he managed to keep the Giants off the board, despite the free runner at second base, giving the Mets a chance to walk it off in the bottom of the frame. He did walk Darin Ruf on four pitches with one out, but got the next two batters he faced, the latter of which was retired with the help of Pete Alonso’s fantastic stretch at first base.

Ottavino’s tenth inning was the final of a series of strong relief outings from the bullpen in Game 1 on Tuesday, all in relief of Tylor Megill. It was a tale of two starts for Megill this week, who like Bassitt had his first hiccup of the young season. Megill’s deGromian dominance was never going to last forever and the Giants hit Megill hard on Tuesday—to the tune of four runs and seven hits, including a home run to Joc Pederson. That said, after struggling early, Megill settled in and managed to last six innings, which is not something one would have expected after watching his first few innings of work that afternoon. And the Mets managed to pick him up and win the game in extras. Megill’s performance yesterday was much better and more like the Megill we’ve been seeing so far this early season. His velocity was back (it had diminished back to 2021 levels on Tuesday) and his stuff looked strong. He gave up just two runs on five hits in 6 23 innings of work, striking out seven batters and walking one. Megill is now 3-0 on the season—the only other Mets pitcher besides Max Scherzer with that record—and the Mets are still unbeaten in his starts.