It was a week of mixed results for the Mets pitching staff. There are a couple of new faces on the meter this week, who both performed well in their first big league opportunities this season. The starting pitching was mostly strong as usual, but the Mets gave Max Scherzer the deGrom treatment in his start on Friday. The exception was Tylor Megill, who had a horrific outing on Wednesday, but it turns out injury may have played a role in his ineffectiveness. This week also saw the end of Drew Smith’s scoreless innings streak and the first truly bad week for Chasen Shreve out of the bullpen.
We’ll start with Tylor Megill, who absolutely would have gotten the poop emoji treatment if not for the news regarding his injury, which has been diagnosed as right biceps inflammation. As someone who had the misfortune of attending Megill’s start in person, I will say that it was obvious pretty much right away that he didn’t have it. After the Mets got out to an early 3-0 lead, Megill gave that all back and then some, surrendering five runs in the first inning. At that point, the game was still within striking distance, but Megill was sent out for a second inning of work and was only able to get one out before giving up a three-run homer to Nelson Cruz which ended Megill’s night and pretty much sealed the game for the Nationals. All told, the line is about as ugly as it gets: eight runs on eight hits in 1 1⁄3 innings of work. This performance raised his season ERA almost two full runs from 2.43 to 4.41. There was some speculation that Megill may have been tipping his pitches, but it’s clear that discomfort was playing a role here. Megill’s MRI did not reveal anything more severe than inflammation, which is good news. It’s unclear how long he will be sidelined, but we can probably chalk up this week’s start as an aberration.
With Megill exiting Wednesday’s game in the second inning, Trevor Williams and the freshly called up Stephen Nogosek admirably saved the bullpen by pitching the remainder of the game in relief. For both of them, it was their only outing for the week. Although the game was already out of hand at that point, neither Williams nor Nogosek were scored upon in their outings. Williams threw 3 2⁄3 scoreless innings, giving up two hits, walking one batter, and striking out two. Nogosek threw three hitless innings in his season debut and struck out three batters in the process and walked two. With David Peterson having pitched in Triple-A on Friday and not yet ready to slot into the rotation in Megill’s place, Williams was slated to start tonight’s game, which has been postponed. He will probably start one of the games in tomorrow’s doubleheader.
Luckily, the Mets got very good starting pitching in each of the other two games in the Nationals series. In particular, Taijuan Walker’s performance in Thursday’s rubber game was exceptional and earns him a fireball this week. What made Walker’s performance impressive even more than the final pitching line itself was the fact that he was clearly not feeling his best and still gutted through seven scoreless innings of work. He only struck out one batter, but was economical by inducing soft contact, needing just 85 pitches to get through seven innings. He gave up three hits and issued one walk over that span and earned his first win of the season for this stellar performance.
Carlos Carrasco put forth a strong performance in the series opener against the Nationals on Tuesday, giving up just two runs in 6 2⁄3 innings of work. He scattered seven hits and struck out five batters while not walking any. He earned his third win of the season for the outing. His second outing of the week in yesterday’s game was less strong, so he gets a side arrow overall for the week. Carrasco gave up a lot of hits and had to throw a lot of pitches yesterday. All told, he gave up four runs on eight hits in 4 1⁄3 innings of work. He struck out two batters and walked one. The Mets bounced back to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, bailing out Carrasco from taking the loss, but ultimately the bullpen blew that tenuous lead and the Mets fell just short of a miraculous comeback in the ninth.
The Mariners series featured some less than stellar bullpen performances, so let’s start with yesterday’s game, which capped off a bad week for Chasen Shreve in particular. Shreve entered the game in relief of Carrasco in the fifth inning with a man on and one out and managed to get out of that inning with the Mets’ lead still in tact. However, he came back out for a second inning of work (an emerging theme with Mets relievers this season) and that’s when things went south. He gave up a game-tying home run to Julio Rodríguez to lead off the sixth inning. He then retired Mike Ford on a pop out, but gave up a single to Abraham Toro, who would eventually come around to score the go-ahead run. Shreve also was the one who gave up the game-tying homer to Jesse Winker in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game, although only Winker’s run was charged to him. The Mets were able to bail Shreve out on Saturday, but they fell short of doing so yesterday and he took the loss for that performance.
Drew Smith also did not cover himself in glory this week. Smith started his week off strong, earning his eighth hold of the season in relief of Carrasco on Tuesday and keeping his scoreless inning streak alive, but that ended on Friday when he walked the first two batters he faced (the second on four pitches) and then gave up a single to Ty France to plate the go-ahead run. He retired the next three batters in order to limit the damage to one run, but he took the loss in Friday’s game. He then followed that up with allowing his inherited runner from Shreve to score yesterday when he gave up a go-ahead two run homer to the light hitting backup catcher Cal Raleigh.
The end to Smith’s scoreless streak came at the detriment of Max Scherzer, who had to suffer a deGromian lack of run support on Friday night. Scherzer was his usual excellent self; he gave up just one run on three hits through seven innings of work. Scherzer retired the first ten batters he faced in order before hitting Ty France with a pitch. He then surrendered two straight singles which scored France. In fact, the only blemish on Scherzer’s night was that he hit two batters, which were the first two batters he hit this season. Otherwise, he struck out six batters while walking two and put forth a performance that should have been good enough to win. But the Mets were stymied by the soft-tossing lefty as usual and Drew Smith had no margin for error in relief. And so it goes.
Perhaps overlooked amidst all that frustration was that Adam Ottavino tossed a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts, allowing the Mets a chance to come back on Friday. They did not do so, but Ottavino was the beneficiary of Saturday’s comeback victory when he followed Friday’s performance with another scoreless inning on Saturday. He worked around a hit and a wild pitch to pitch a scoreless eighth inning after Mazeika’s seventh inning home run and earned his second win of the season, finishing off a clean sheet week.
Edwin Díaz put the exclamation mark on Saturday’s comeback victory by striking out the side for his eighth save of the season, capping off another strong week for the Mets’ closer. Although Díaz does not have an ERA of 0.00 this week, he was perfect in save opportunities and never gave up a lead. He began the week with a scoreless ninth inning and a save in relief of Carlos Carrasco in Tuesday’s victory. He gave up a solo home run in the ninth inning of Thursday’s rubber game victory, but when the opposing batter is Juan Soto, that will sometimes happen. Otherwise, he struck out two batters in that outing and the home run turned out to be no harm done.
Before all the mess with the bullpen unfolded on Saturday, Chris Bassitt put forth another strong start for the Mets. Although he was not dominant, he got the job done. Things looked dicey for Bassitt early, as he loaded the bases on a hit by pitch and two walks in the first inning, but he picked off Eugenio Suárez to end the inning and escape unscathed; it was the first pick-off of Bassitt’s major league career and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Bassitt ended up hitting two batters, walking three, and giving up five hits, but he limited the damage to just one run over 5 2⁄3 innings, striking out eight batters. There were also clearly communication issues between Bassitt and Patrick Mazeika behind the plate, but the battery was able to overcome them and not let it sink the ship.
The ship was almost sunk by the bullpen though, as I previously discussed. Although it was Chasen Shreve that gave up the game-tying homer to Mets nemesis Jesse Winker, it was Seth Lugo who gave up back-to-back singles ahead of the home run. After issuing a walk, Lugo was able to record the final out in relief of Bassitt in the sixth and came out for a second inning of work (there’s that theme again), in which he retired the first batter he faced, but then gave up the back-to-back hits. Lugo was charged with two runs in 2⁄3 of an inning of work for that effort. Lugo’s other outing this week was much better. In Thursday’s rubber game victory over the Nationals, Lugo served as the bridge between Walker and Díaz by tossing a 1-2-3 eighth inning with two strikeouts, earning his fifth hold of the season.
It was also a week of mixed results for Joely Rodríguez. With a man on and one out in Tuesday’s game, Rodríguez was brought in to face Juan Soto and got him to pop out, handing things off to Díaz for the ninth. Rodríguez was less successful on Saturday when he allowed an insurance run to the Mariners in the seventh inning on a Jesse Winker double and a Julio Rodríguez single. In fairness, he did bounce back to also pitch the eighth, which was a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. But, that extra run ended up to be the difference in the game because the Mets’ comeback fell just short.
But the Mets were able to get close in part because Colin Holderman—freshly called up from Triple-A to take Megill’s spot on the roster until Peterson is ready to rejoin the rotation—contributed a scoreless top of the ninth inning. He did give up two singles, but was able to work around them to toss a scoreless frame in his major league debut.