Aside from a rough outing from David Peterson on Wednesday, which the Mets overcame, it was quite the stellar week for the Mets’ starting rotation, which welcomed back Max Scherzer into the fold. The problem is that the performance from the bullpen—Edwin Díaz being the perpetual exception—was inconsistent. Drew Smith in particular continues to struggle and is going through a rough patch. But if the rotation continues to perform as it has, with Jacob deGrom working his way back to a return, the Mets will continue to be in nearly every single game they play in the second half.
We’ll start with Max Scherzer, who gave every bit of an ace performance in his return to the mound on Tuesday. He tossed six shutout innings, surrendering just two hits. He struck out eleven batters and walked none. It was vintage Scherzer, but unfortunately the Mets gave him the Jacob deGrom treatment and could not score a single run off Nick Lodolo—also returning from injury—or the Reds’ bullpen. So Scherzer took a no decision for his sparkling effort, but his return did illustrate how much the Mets were missing him, even if they managed to tread water without him.
It was Seth Lugo who ultimately surrendered the walk-off sacrifice fly that snapped the scoreless tie on Tuesday in the bottom of the ninth. The sac fly was the only out he recorded in the inning; he allowed a leadoff double to Tommy Pham, intentionally walked the next hitter to set up the double play, but then walked the following batter to load the bases and put himself in a situation that he ultimately could not get out of, resulting in his second loss of the season. Lugo did, however, earn his third save of the season the previous night by working around a hit to pitch a scoreless ninth inning in the Mets’ 7-4 victory on Monday. Lugo also appeared in Saturday’s game. He came in with traffic on the bases in the sixth and threw a wild pitch that scored a run, but limited the damage to just the one run with a key strikeout of Bryan De La Cruz. He went on to record the first two outs of the seventh inning as well.
The run that scored on Lugo’s wild pitch was charged to Carlos Carrasco, who wasn’t at his most dominant on Saturday, but managed to extricate himself out of several jams, including a bases loaded, nobody out situation in the first inning in which the Marlins did not score. Carrasco was ultimately charged with two runs over 5 2⁄3 innings of work. He gave up seven hits, but he peppered in five timely strikeouts to limit the damage. He also walked two batters in the outing. Although the game was messy, Carrasco gave the Mets enough for them to win.
After Lugo exited the game on Saturday the Mets were clinging to a skinny one-run lead, but Adam Ottavino gave up a game-tying solo homer to Jesús Aguilar in the eighth inning. It was the only blemish in Ottavino’s recent body of work, which has been quite good overall. It was Ottavino who ultimately earned the win in Wednesday’s extra-inning victory for pitching a scoreless bottom of the ninth inning after the Mets tied it up in the top of the frame and then won it in the tenth. Ottavino struck out two batters in that outing.
In both Wednesday’s and Saturday's extra-inning affairs, Ottavino was followed by Edwin Díaz, who continues to be basically unhittable. After the Mets put up five runs in the top of the tenth on Wednesday, Díaz came in to put the cherry on top and struck out the side in the bottom of the tenth. Then on Saturday, Díaz pitched a scoreless ninth inning complete with two strikeouts. He racked up two more strikeouts in a 1-2-3 ninth inning again yesterday. Díaz is rocking a 1.78 season ERA with a strikeout rate over 50%. He is the only pitcher the Mets will be sending to the All-Star Game and he deserves every bit of that honor.
The Mets pulled out a victory in Wednesday’s game despite a poor outing from David Peterson, who was the only starter to throw a clunker this week. Peterson lasted just 3 2⁄3 innings, over which he gave up three runs on four hits. But Peterson’s real problem in this outing was walks. He walked five batters and struck out seven.
Adonis Medina was the true hero of Wednesday’s game and a big reason why the Mets were able to come back to win. He took over for Peterson and pitched three scoreless innings of relief. He gave up one hit and one walk in the outing and struck out four batters. Unfortunately, as is the life of up-and-down relievers, he was sent down to Triple-A after the outing.
Medina was followed by Colin Holderman who is back with the Mets after spending some time on the injured list and then some time in Triple-A after being activated. Holderman worked around a walk to pitch 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings on Wednesday. Even though the go-ahead run came around to score in the top of the tenth on Saturday with Holderman on the mound, it was through no fault of his. The runner was the free man in extra innings and he scored on a throwing error by Francisco Lindor. With some help from Tomás Nido, Holderman negotiated the rest of the inning unscathed and therefore earned his fourth win of the season when the Mets pulled off the walk-off win in the bottom of the tenth.
Like Medina, Jake Reed pitched just once this week, pitched well to save the rest of the bullpen, and then was relieved of his roster spot. He was called up after Medina was sent down and pitched two scoreless, hitless innings in Thursday’s raucous victory. He struck out two batters in the process. Yesterday the Mets claimed lefty reliever Sam Clay off waivers from the Phillies and designated Reed for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
Reed’s two scoreless innings came in relief of Trevor Williams, who had arguably his best start as a Met this week. Williams tossed seven scoreless innings on Thursday, backed by plenty of run support from his offense. He gave up just two hits and struck out seven batters while walking none. With Scherzer now back and Chris Bassitt having returned from the COVID IL, it’s likely Williams will now go back to the bullpen.
Speaking of Chris Bassitt’s return from the COVID IL, he pitched well in his first start back, but unfortunately was handed a loss, as the Mets offense was unable to mount much of a response against Pablo López and the Marlins bullpen on Friday. Bassitt gave up two runs on six hits through 6 2⁄3 innings of work, striking out three batters and walking none. After going through that long rough patch, with his past few outings, Bassitt has gotten his season ERA down to 3.94.
Drew Smith came in the game on Friday in relief of Bassitt and allowed a two-run homer to Garrett Cooper in the eighth inning that provided key insurance for the Marlins. Smith has been struggling mightily of late and this is his second straight week with poor marks. Smith also allowed a home run in his outing on Monday, although that did not have as much of an impact on the outcome of the game. Smith did keep himself from poop emoji territory by pitching a scoreless eighth inning in a tie game yesterday.
Yesterday’s game began with a fantastic outing from Taijuan Walker, who, in my opinion, was snubbed of an All-Star berth. Walker pitched seven scoreless innings, going toe to toe with NL Cy Young favorite Sandy Alcantara. He gave up just three hits, walked one, and struck out seven. Unfortunately, the Mets could not break through and lost the game in extras, but Walker did all he could to give them a chance to win. Walker did earn a win—his seventh of the season—in his start on Monday though, in which he put forth a quality start, allowing three runs over six innings of work. He struck out a whopping nine batters in that outing and walked only one. Walker’s season ERA stands at 2.63.
Unfortunately it was Tommy Hunter who took the loss in extra innings yesterday. In between his two strikeouts in the tenth, he allowed three singles which plated two runs (only one of which was earned due to the free runner). It was all the Marlins would need to win the game. Hunter’s other outing this week also came late in the game in a scoreless tie, but it was more successful. On Tuesday, Hunter worked around a hit and a walk to pitch a scoreless eighth inning in relief of Max Scherzer before Lugo coughed up the walk-off in the ninth.
Between Scherzer’s six scoreless innings and Hunter’s scoreless eighth inning was a scoreless seventh inning from Joely Rodríguez, who didn’t allow a hit and struck out two batters in the outing. Rodríguez also pitched the top of the ninth inning on Friday and allowed an insurance run in the form of a well-executed suicide squeeze by the Marlins, but that run was not the difference-maker in the game.