The Mets seem to be building a habit of concentrating all of their bad pitching performances into one game, which makes for one ugly game a week or so, but also is good news for their overall record if the pitchers get the necessary run support they need the rest of the week. This week, like most weeks, featured strong pitching on the whole for the Mets, but contained one horrific bullpen performance in Wednesday’s game followed by a mediocre start from Taijuan Walker the next day. Luckily for Walker, the bullpen was sparkling on Thursday and that set up the historic comeback victory. It was also a somewhat taxing week for the pitching staff, as there were two doubleheaders interspersed by a long layoff between Thursday’s game and Sunday’s games.
We’ll peel the Band-Aid off this week and talk about the bad news first, starting with Taijuan Walker’s rough outing on Thursday. After a solid start in his return from the injured list, he hit his first rough patch on Thursday, giving up seven runs—six of them earned—on nine hits, including two home runs in four innings of work. The Phillies put up a four spot on Walker in the very first inning and then he gave up the home runs to back-to-back hitters (Harper, Castellanos) in the fourth inning, allowing the Phillies to open up a seven-run lead. To be fair to Walker, all three of his starts this year were against the Phillies and it seems like the potent Phillies lineup got enough repeated looks at him to figure him out. And ultimately, the Mets bailed him out with a combination of stellar relief pitching and a miraculous comeback, helping him avoid a poop emoji for being responsible for a loss.
The bulk of that stellar relief pitching came from Adonis Medina, who I am awarding a fireball for being the unheralded hero of Thursday’s historic comeback. Medina’s 2 2⁄3 scoreless innings of relief may not be what is featured in highlight reels or SNY Amazin’ Finishes when we look back on Thursday’s game, but they played an essential role. It’s not easy being the up-and-down guy in the bullpen, but Medina has done well in the opportunities he has gotten and earned every bit of his first major league win with Thursday’s performance, in which he gave up just one hit and struck out a batter while walking none.
Also involved in middle relief after Walker’s exit was Chasen Shreve, who continues to impress with every outing and has shown that he can get both lefties and righties out. Shreve worked around a single to pitch a scoreless fifth inning on Thursday and recorded the first out of the sixth inning via a strikeout of Bryce Harper before handing things off to Medina. Shreve also tossed 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings in Game 2 of yesterday’s doubleheader, complete with two strikeouts.
After the Mets managed their miracle seven-run inning in the top of the ninth on Thursday, their work still wasn’t quite done. Edwin Díaz came in to shut the door and complete the miracle victory and he did so in convincing fashion, pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning with two strikeouts and earning his sixth save of the season. Díaz was perfect in save opportunities this week; he also made a one-run lead stand up in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader. He gave up one hit and also struck out two batters in that appearance. Díaz now holds a sparkling 1.50 ERA on the season.
Other than Walker’s rough outing on Thursday, the Mets pitching staff’s other hiccup this week came in Wednesday’s game against the Braves, but the Mets could not overcome that one, which resulted in a blowout loss. Tylor Megill started the game and ended up being charged with three runs in 5 1⁄3 innings of work, but he pitched better than his final line indicated. Megill held the Braves scoreless through five and racked up nine strikeouts, but things fell apart for him rather quickly in the sixth. After allowing a somewhat unlucky infield single with one out in the inning, Megill was unable to put the inning to bed and allowed two more singles to load the bases before being removed from the game. All of those baserunners would eventually come around to score, tarnishing Megill’s final line.
Adam Ottavino came in to play fireman and unfortunately poured gasoline on the fire rather than putting it out. He walked the first batter he faced with the bases loaded to put the Braves on the board and things got out of hand very quickly after that. He then gave up an RBI double, threw a wild pitch that plated another run, and an RBI single. When Ottavino exited the game in favor of Trevor Williams, five runs had scored and he had not retired a single batter. Three of those runs were charged to Megill and Ottavino was ultimately charged with three runs himself after Williams allowed his inherited runners to score as well. This outing from Ottavino was absolutely a poop emoji worthy performance, but there are two (somewhat related) factors at play here: 1.) Due to the doubleheader on Tuesday that put a strain on the bullpen, this was Ottavino’s third day pitching in a row and 2.) He was unscored upon in any of his other three outings this week. In Monday’s loss, Ottavino struck out the side in the ninth inning. In Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, he pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning with two strikeouts, earning his second hold of the season. Then after Wednesday’s disaster, he bounced back to pitch a scoreless eighth inning in Game 1 yesterday to keep the Mets within a run. So all told, the scales balance for Ottavino this week.
The same unfortunately cannot be said for Trevor Williams who further exacerbated the situation on Wednesday and allowed two additional runs to score after Ottavino left the game. He also allowed a two-run homer to Guillermo Heredia in the ninth to put the game even further out of reach. That said, he did save the rest of the bullpen after Ottavino could not retire a batter by pitching the remaining 3 2⁄3 innings in relief of Megill. Over that span, he was charged with three runs and struck out six batters while walking one. That was the Mets long man’s only appearance for the week.
Okay now that we have the ugly stuff out of the way, it’s mostly good news from here for the rest of the Mets pitching staff. But before we move to solidly good territory, let’s take a quick pitstop at “meh,” which is the best descriptor I can come up with for Max Scherzer’s start this week. We have seen Scherzer battle through not being at his sharpest before, but this is the first time it has resulted in a Mets loss. Scherzer dealt with a lot of traffic on the bases in Game 1 of yesterday’s doubleheader, yielding ten hits over six innings of work. But, he limited the damage to just three runs and still managed to give the Mets a quality start, as aces do. One of those runs came on a Bryce Harper solo home run in the first inning. Despite not having his best stuff, Scherzer still didn’t walk any batters and struck out seven. However, it was obvious that a combination of the Phillies lineup (not the best matchup for Scherzer to begin with, given how it is stacked with lefty sluggers) seeing him a bunch early in the season and the extra days of rest had an effect on Scherzer. And it ended a winning streak for him that dated back to May of last season in which his team went unbeaten in 24 straight Max Scherzer starts. Still, Scherzer was not allowing any excuses—matchups, a seven-day layover, or bad weather. “I will not make an excuse for anything,” he said after the game. “My job is to go out there and compete and win under any circumstances, under any conditions.”
Despite Scherzer’s struggles, he delivered a quality start and kept the game close, and Adam Ottavino and Joely Rodríguez did their jobs out of the bullpen to give the Mets a chance to come back. Rodríguez worked around a hit and struck out three batters to pitch a scoreless seventh inning in relief of Scherzer, which represents his only outing for the week.
The best pitching performance this week goes to Carlos Carrasco, who earns a fireball for his performance in Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, capping off the doubleheader sweep with a shutout victory. Carrasco pitched eight scoreless innings, scattering six hits while striking out five hitters and walking two. It was a fantastic bounce back start for Carrasco, who gets the rare “poop emoji to fireball” designation this week.
Seth Lugo completed the shutout win by working around a hit to toss a scoreless ninth inning, earning his second save of the season. Lugo also pitched the ninth inning in yesterday’s Game 2 victory, mostly just to keep him sharp because of the two consecutive rainouts on Friday and Saturday. This is two consecutive strong weeks for Lugo, who has lowered his 2022 ERA to 3.18 after his early season struggles.
Chris Bassitt was the only starting pitcher to have two starts this week and the Mets lost the first, but won the second. Bassitt delivered a quality start on Monday, giving up three runs on six hits in seven innings of work. He struck out eight and walked one in the outing. But unfortunately, the Mets did not give Bassitt much run support against Max Fried and the Braves bullpen and Bassitt took the loss for that effort. He did not give the Mets quite as much length in Game 2 of yesterday’s doubleheader, but he didn’t need to. And this time, the Mets’ bats (namely Pete Alonso’s bat) were up for the task, giving him six runs worth of support to work with. Bassitt held the Phillies to just one run on five hits in 5 2⁄3 innings of work with four strikeouts and one walk, earning his fourth win of the season.
It didn’t help Bassitt’s cause on Monday when Trevor May surrendered two runs of insurance in the eighth inning. However, after the game, May admitted that he was still not healthy and was still dealing with the triceps issue that necessitated an early exit from an April 11th appearance. May was then placed on the injured list with “right triceps inflammation” and was eventually diagnosed with a stress reaction on the lower portion of his humerus. He is currently shut down from throwing for four weeks, after which the Mets will reevaluate him. The righty setup man holds an ugly 8.64 ERA over eight appearances this season, but it is clear he was pitching hurt for most of them.
In the meantime, Drew Smith has pitched himself into a bigger and bigger role in the Mets’ bullpen in May’s absence. And he has absolutely earned it, putting together another clean sheet this week. Smith pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning in relief of Bassitt in yesterday’s Game 2 victory with one strikeout. And Smith was arguably the pitching MVP in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, putting forth a Herculean effort with two hitless innings of relief that preserved a one-run lead for the Mets. He struck out two batters and walked one in that outing en route to his seventh hold of the season. Drew Smith still holds a perfect 0.00 ERA in 12 1⁄3 innings of relief this season.
Smith’s two sparkling innings in Game 1 on Tuesday came in relief of David Peterson, who was the spot starter in the doubleheader for the Mets. Peterson gave the Mets a solid effort, yielding four runs—only three of them earned—on four hits. He struck out six batters and walked three in the outing. Both Peterson and the Mets offense did exactly enough to earn Peterson his first win of the season. The Mets optioned Peterson back to Triple-A after this spot start, but he will be the first to get the call if the Mets need another starting pitcher in the coming weeks, which feature sixteen straight days without an off day after today.