Last week’s pitching meter was the best pitching meter of the season and possibly the best pitching meter I’ve ever written for Amazin’ Avenue. Let’s just say this week’s pitching meter is...not like last week’s meter. It was a grueling week for the Mets’ pitching staff. They had a couple of starters go down with injuries, there were rain delays, there was a doubleheader, and there was a revolving door of pitchers going to and from the minor leagues just to cover all of the innings. Hell, Darin Ruf even pitched two (scoreless!) innings—the first time a position player has pitched for the Mets this season. He doesn’t appear on this meter, but lots of other guys do who made their pitching debuts for the Mets this week—some good, some bad, and some ugly.
It’s hard to even know where to begin with this meter, which is probably the most chaotic meter I’ve done in some time. But, I suppose when chaos is reigning, it helps to begin at the beginning. The week began with two consecutive days in which the Mets’ starting pitcher departed the game early due to injury. On Monday, it was Carlos Carrasco, who went back to the mound after an hour-long rain delay and subsequently strained his oblique on the final pitch of the second inning. All told, his final line was three runs on four hits (including two home runs) with one strikeout and one walk in two innings of work. The following day, Taijuan Walker was having a much more successful outing, having held the Braves scoreless for the first two innings. But, on a play at first base, his back tightened up on him, which turned out to be a bulging disc. Carrasco is on the injured list, but Walker only missed one scheduled start and is slated to return to the mound tonight against the Yankees.
With the starter lasting just two innings on subsequent days, this pushed the Mets’ bullpen to its limits. Monday became a laugher with the Braves scoring double-digit runs against a parade of Mets’ relievers. The primary culprit was Adonis Medina, who was tagged for six runs (five of them earned) in 1 1⁄3 innings of work. Less because of the horrible performance and more because he had to wear it and threw 50 pitches and was therefore rendered unavailable for a few days, Medina was subsequently optioned to Triple-A after this outing.
R.J. Alvarez was called up to take Medina’s place and did not fare much better in Tuesday’s game. He came in the game after Walker’s early exit and gave up three runs on four hits, including a home run. He struck out two batters and walked three batters. I guess the only thing one can say about his outing is that at least he ate up 2 1⁄3 innings. Alvarez took the loss in his first appearance in the big leagues since 2015 and then was subsequently designated for assignment in favor of yet a different fresh arm.
Stephen Nogosek followed Alvarez on Tuesday and gave up two more runs, but ate up two more innings. Nogosek followed up that shaky performance with a strong one later in the week, though. In the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader, Nogosek came in to relieve a struggling David Peterson and struck out Matt Vierling with the bases loaded for the final out of the fifth inning to avoid the game getting away from the Mets. He then went on to pitch a scoreless sixth inning and record the first out of the seventh inning for a total of 1 2⁄3 innings of work.
Aside from Carrasco and Medina, Mychal Givens was the other Mets pitcher that was hit very hard by the Braves on Monday. Givens was smacked around for three runs on four hits in an inning of work with two strikeouts and no walks. Givens’ other outings this week were more successful, however. Givens struck out the side in the eighth inning of Thursday’s loss with the Mets only down by a run, giving the Mets a chance to come back. Givens also came in the game in the eighth inning on Saturday night with a runner on third and one out. He allowed a single to Rhys Hoskins, which plated an insurance run for the Phillies, but that run was not charged to him. He then recorded the final two outs, assisted by James McCann throwing out Hoskins trying to steal second for the final out.
The run driven home by the Hoskins RBI single was charged to Rob Zastryzny, who was one of the many Mets to make his debut this week. All told, Zastryzny did well. With one out and a runner on first in the seventh inning of the nightcap on Saturday, he recorded the final two outs of the inning and then the first out of the eighth inning before allowing a triple to Kyle Schwarber. Givens then came in and allowed the RBI single to Hoskins, but that was the only damage against Zastryzny in the three outs he recorded.
Game 2 on Saturday was started by David Peterson, who is back in the rotation with Carrasco sidelined. Unfortunately, it was not Peterson’s strongest effort. He did well to limit the damage, but he was contending with near constant traffic on the bases, which hindered his ability to go deep into the game. He threw 100 pitches over just 4 2⁄3 innings of work, surrendering three runs on eight hits. He struck out six and walked two in the outing. It was a classic David Peterson start, but he has already shown this season that he can do better than that and he’s going to need to during the stretch run. Fortunately, Peterson’s next assignment should be an easier one than the potent Phillies lineup.
By contrast, Trevor Williams was the spot starter for the Mets in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader and pitched great. Williams has been fantastic for the Mets lately in long relief, but has struggled when he has been asked to start games. This time it was different. Williams pitched four scoreless innings, yielding just four hits in the process. He walked two batters and struck out three in the outing. Thankfully Taijuan Walker did not have to miss too much time, but Williams will continue to be essential to the Mets’ pitching staff—the last line of defense against games being started by a pitcher who probably should not be in the major leagues.
Unfortunately due to the injuries and the grueling schedule lacking off days, the Mets did need a spot start by a pitcher who probably should not be in the major leagues. Earlier in the season, it was Thomas Szapucki and this time it was José Butto. Butto has pitched well in the minors and earned every bit of this opportunity; he was truly the best option available to the Mets, given their situation. But, the result was still just about what you would predict. The Phillies dropped a four spot on Butto in the very first inning on Sunday and it seemed like yet another day when the Mets would need to somehow scrape together seven or even eight innings of work from a run down bullpen. But, to Butto’s credit, he settled down after the first and pitched scoreless frames in the second and the third innings. And meanwhile, the Mets pulled within a run and were right back in the game. But, Butto was probably pushed one inning too far. The Phillies dropped three more runs on Butto in the fourth making for an ugly final line: seven runs on nine hits with two walks on five strikeouts in four innings of work. It’s a poop emoji worthy line, but I’m not giving Butto a poop emoji because he shook off that first inning and gave the Mets four innings. And of course, the Mets ended up winning the game in improbable and thrilling fashion.
Sunday’s game will probably be referred to as “the Mark Canha game” and deservedly so, given Canha’s two home runs and epic bat flip on the second dinger. But, I will argue that Sunday’s game should also be referred to as “the Nate Fisher game.” Fisher had left baseball entirely and was working in banking until the Mets signed him. But on Sunday he made his major league debut at age 26 and it could not have gone better. Fisher pitched three scoreless innings, paving the way for the Mets’ come from behind win. For that, he earns the sole fireball in this week’s meter.
Trevor May earned the win on Sunday, despite not being at his sharpest. After Canha’s first home run of the day tied the game at seven runs apiece, May came in the game for the eighth inning and gave up a go-ahead solo homer to Jean Segura. But, he worked around a single to Kyle Schwarber to avoid any further damage and when Canha’s second dinger put the Mets ahead ultimately for good, May earned the win. But it’s still been a rough road for Trevor May of late. In Wednesday’s victory over the Braves, Buck Showalter turned to Edwin Díaz in the eighth inning to face the heart of the order with a one-run lead. Díaz would have possibly stayed out there for the ninth, but the Mets tacked on three runs in the top of the frame, so Showalter turned to May instead to pitch the ninth. May nearly gave the lead back, allowing three straight hits to plate two runs and bring the tying run to the plate. However, May bent but did not break and held on to secure the victory for the Mets. Still, it’s undeniable that May is not sharp right now.
As I mentioned, Edwin Díaz pitched a scoreless eighth inning on Wednesday to protect a one-run lead against the heart of the Braves order to earn his second hold of the season. And he also earned his 28th save of the season in Sunday’s wild victory, but it was just by the skin of his teeth. He was clearly not at his best, whether it was due to the long period of time since his previous outing or just an off day. But, he still got the job done, despite his scoreless innings streak coming to an end. With the Mets up by two runs thanks to the the insurance run from Brandon Nimmo’s homer, Díaz yielded two singles and then two long fly balls—the first advanced the runner to third and the second was a sacrifice fly that brought the Phillies within a run. He then walked a batter to push the tying run into scoring position and put the winning run on base. But then he bounced back to strike out pinch hitter Darick Hall and Mets fans collectively exhaled. It was the scariest Díaz outing in quite some time, but we are so spoiled by his dominance that anything less seems bad. Hopefully it was just a blip on the radar for Díaz.
The Mets’ only win in the Braves series on Wednesday was started by Max Scherzer, who wasn’t his usual dominant self, but did enough to give the Mets the win. Well, it was really that he was his usual dominant self until he wasn’t. He gave up just one run through his first six innings of work and carried a lead over that span. But, then he loaded the bases in the seventh with one out on a single and two walks, which chased him from the game. All of those runs would eventually come around to score, meaning that Scherzer was ultimately charged with four runs in 6 1⁄3 innings of work. He walked three batters in total and struck out eight. It wasn’t his best outing, but it earned him his ninth win of the season.
It was Adam Ottavino who spoiled Scherzer’s final line somewhat by allowing his inherited runners to score. The first run scored on a force out and then Ottavino gave up a three-run homer to Robbie Grossman to bring the Braves within a run. Ottavino then walked Ronald Acuña Jr., but Acuña was caught stealing to bail Ottavino out of the disastrous inning with the lead still in tact. As a result, Ottavino earned his 16th hold of the season for that outing, despite his poor performance. Ottavino bounced back in the Phillies series, however. He worked around two hits to pitch a scoreless inning in relief of Chris Bassitt in Friday’s victory and tossed a 1-2-3 eighth inning in Saturday’s Game 1 win, complete with two strikeouts. The latter outing earned him his 17th hold of the season.
After the Mets jumped on the Phillies bullpen for four runs of insurance in the ninth inning of the day game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the task of finishing off that victory fell to lefty Sam Clay, the latest in the stream of Mets pitchers to make his debut this week. Clay gave up a run, but it was unearned because of two fielding errors. So overall, it was a successful outing for Clay, who struck out two batters in the outing. Clay was unfortunately (are you sensing a theme here?) designated for assignment out of necessity after this outing in order to add Nate Fisher to the roster for Sunday’s game.
Chris Bassitt gritted his way to a very solid effort this week, pushing himself to 104 pitches on Friday to get through six innings for the quality start. He gave up seven hits and so was dealing with baserunners often, but he limited the Phillies to two runs and outdueled Aaron Nola, who lasted just five innings. Bassitt struck out four batters and walked none on the way to his 11th win of the season.
Along with Ottavino and May each contributing a scoreless inning in relief of Bassitt on Friday, Joely Rodríguez pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning with a strikeout. It was a strong week for Rodríguez who also contributed 1 2⁄3 scoreless innings the next day in Saturday’s Game 1 victory in relief of Trevor Williams. The only blemish on Rodríguez’s scorecard for the week came in Monday’s game when he was charged with one run over 1 2⁄3 innings of work. Rodríguez was the first reliever called upon after Carrasco’s early exit and pitched a scoreless third and then was removed from the game with two outs in the fourth and a runner on base. But then Adonis Medina imploded and allowed his inherited runner from Rodríguez to score, along with a parade of others. Still, Monday’s loss can hardly be placed at the feet of Rodríguez who gave the best pitching performance of the day...that is, besides that of Darin Ruf.
It was a so-so week of work for Seth Lugo, who was the one who earned the win for Saturday’s Game 1 victory with Williams not pitching deep enough into the game to factor into the decision. Lugo immediately followed Williams and struck out the side in the fifth and then recorded the first out of the sixth before allowing a single that chased him from the game. Rodríguez allowed that run—charged to Lugo—to score on another hit and a sac fly, but it was still a solid outing from Lugo and that run did not cost the Mets in that lopsided win. Lugo also appeared in Tuesday’s game, entering in the seventh inning to relieve Nogosek in his third inning of work. Nogosek did not record an out in that third inning and Lugo came in to bail him out and allowed one of his inherited runners to score, but nothing else. That ended up being a meaningless tack on run for the Braves, as the Mets were shut out that day. Lugo’s most significant outing of the week was his shortest one, which came in Thursday’s loss. Lugo was tasked with recording the final out in the seventh inning in a tie game in relief of Jacob deGrom and was unable to get the job done. He gave up a double to Michael Harris which plated the go-ahead—and ultimately decisive—run. This run was of course charged to deGrom so it’s hard to ding Lugo’s grade too much for it, but it was still a back breaker.
Which brings us to Jacob deGrom, who sadly took his first loss of the year on Thursday. deGrom was not quite deGoat fireball level dominant the way he had been in his first few starts, but he was still very good. He gave up two runs in the third inning, but nothing else through his first six innings of work. With the Mets having tied it up in the fifth and deGrom being pretty economical with his pitch count, the Mets pushed deGrom to his longest outing since returning from the injured list. He was given the seventh, but on a tight leash. He recorded the first two outs and then gave up a hot shot that Brett Baty couldn’t handle, for which Vaughn Grissom was credited for a hit, and then that was all she wrote. Lugo allowed the go-ahead run to score and deGrom was ultimately charged with three runs over 6 2⁄3 innings, striking out nine batters and walking none. It was what would be considered an excellent outing by most standard, but obviously deGrom is held to a different standard and for the first time since returning he looked just a little bit human. Which is okay.