Last week was one of the better weeks of the season for the Mets’ pitching staff. This week is a bit more of a mixed bag. Obviously the most unexpected thing is the down arrow for Jacob deGrom, which is something that I don’t think I’ve ever done on a pitching meter before. Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker also both had mediocre starts this week, but Max Scherzer was unhittable in his first week back from the injured list and Chris Bassitt was excellent as well. After a lights out week last week for the Mets’ bullpen, this week most Mets relievers had bad performances and good ones in equal measure. In addition to Max Scherzer returning to the rotation, Tylor Megill and Drew Smith were both activated from the injured list, taking the roster spots of Alex Claudio and Tommy Hunter (who is on the IL for his back again).
We’ll start with Max Scherzer who is definitely the star of the pitching meter this week, earning the only fireball of the group. In his first start back from the injured list he pitched six perfect innings on the night the Mets clinched their playoff berth. He struck out nine batters in the outing and needed just 68 pitches. He was dominant again on Sunday, the only run off him coming on a solo homer by Seth Brown. He yielded just four hits in total, struck out seven, and walked one over six strong innings of work en route to his eleventh win of the season. It was a desperately needed bounce back performance after what the Mets experienced the day before.
What the Mets experienced on Saturday was the worst Jacob deGrom start in years and possibly...ever, just from the perspective of how hard he was hit. It’s true, he wasn’t helped by a fielding miscue by Jeff McNeil when he tripped in the outfield and missed catching a hard-hit ball right at him. It’s also true that deGrom was not pleased with some of Ángel Hernández’s calls behind the plate. It’s also true that he seemed uncomfortable on the Oakland mound and kept staring down at it, messing around with it with his cleats. But none of that changes the final pitching line: five runs on six hits in four innings of work. He simply did not have his slider working and had trouble locating his fastball and the result was ugly. The only good news is that there is nothing to indicate any sort of injury or something wrong physically with deGrom. He just had a bad day, which with the way we’ve been spoiled by his pitching, feels shocking, but it happens to the best of them—even Jacob deGrom.
But luckily Scherzer was excellent in the rubber game in Oakland and Chris Bassitt was incredible in the series opener, allowing the Mets to still pull out a series victory despite Saturday’s mishap. Bassitt lasted deep into the game, going eight innings and giving up just two runs on six hits. He struck out only two batters, but was economical with his pitch count. With that strong performance Bassitt earned his 15th win of the season.
With the Mets up big, Drew Smith—fresh off the injured list—came in the game on Friday to finish the game in the ninth inning in relief of Bassitt. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning with one strikeout. However, his first outing back from the injured list was not nearly as smooth. Smith was brought into the seventh inning of Wednesday’s game with one out to get with the bases loaded. Instead, he gave up a grand slam to Mike Brosseau that put the game out of reach for the Mets. Of course, only one of those runs was charged to Smith, but it was still quite the rude greeting in his first pitching appearance in almost two months.
One of the runs from the grand slam given up by Smith was charged to David Peterson, but that runner was intentionally walked by Peterson after he recorded the first two outs of the seventh inning. That was Peterson’s only work for the week.
The other two runs from Brosseu’s grand slam on Wednesday were charged to Taijuan Walker and they sullied his final line to a mediocre four runs on six hits over six innings of work. Walker had only given up one run through six innings, but then he walked the first batter he faced in the seventh and allowed two singles that plated a run. He left the game with those two runners on base and both came around to score on the grand slam. Walker struck out three and walked three in the outing and took his fifth loss of the season. It’s a shame because Walker had been so solid through his first six innings, but was unable to finish the job. That said, it’s not like the Mets really gave him any run support either.
With the game fully out of hand on Wednesday, Tylor Megill came in the game and pitched a scoreless eighth. However, much like Smith, he had a rocky first outing back from the injured list. He gave up a two-run homer to Rowdy Tellez in the seventh inning of Monday’s series opener against the Brewers. But luckily for Megill, the Mets were up 5-0 at that point thanks to the work of Scherzer and got the two runs back as insurance in the following inning, so his misstep did not have much of an impact on the final score. Megill also recorded one out in Saturday’s loss. The Mets can’t exactly be encouraged by how he has looked in a bullpen role in the early going.
After the homer given up by Megill brought the Brewers within three on Monday, Seth Lugo came in the game and worked around a hit to pitch a scoreless eighth inning with one strikeout. But Lugo’s other outing this week was poor (sensing a pattern here?). Like the Mets’ other higher leverage relievers, Lugo has not gotten much work lately because the Mets have not played in many close contests. So he came in Sunday’s lopsided game to get some work and ended up giving up a three-run homer to Conner Capel. Of course, it had no impact on the final outcome of the game, but it was not an encouraging outing from Lugo.
Adam Ottavino also appeared in both Monday and Sunday’s games this week in relief of Scherzer. On Monday, he worked around a hit to pitch a scoreless ninth inning after the Mets stretched their lead to five runs again. He struck out two in that outing. He pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning in Sunday’s game complete with two strikeouts before the Mets truly blew the doors off the game with a five spot in the eighth inning. But, like seemingly every other Mets reliever this week, those two good outings were balanced by one shaky one. Ottavino was one of a parade of relievers that appeared in Tuesday’s victory. With the Mets up by three runs, Ottavino entered the game in his usual setup role in the eighth inning. But, he allowed a single, a stolen base, and another single to plate a run and bring the Brewers within two. This necessitated using Edwin Díaz for a four-out save, which Buck Showalter was probably more willing to do than usual since Díaz has gotten so little work lately.
So Edwin Díaz came in the game in the eighth inning with the tying run at the plate and struck out Rowdy Tellez to end the inning. He then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning as well with two strikeouts. That represented Díaz’s 31st save of the season and his only work for the week.
Although the Mets emerged victorious on Tuesday, the game did not start off well, as the Brewers dropped a three spot on Carlos Carrasco in the second inning. To Carrasco’s credit, he managed to pitch two scoreless innings after that in a game when it looked like he might not even make it out of the second. But, three runs in four innings of work is still not a good outing. Carrasco gave up five hits, struck out four batters, and walked two batters.
Trevor Williams immediately followed Carrasco for some long relief but it turned out that his outing was not actually all that long. Williams had a rough inning in the fifth, allowing a leadoff double and a two-out single to plate another run for the Brewers. He kept the damage to just one run, but loaded the bases on a walk and a hit by pitch before he was able to get out of the inning. He then recorded the first out of the sixth inning before being removed from the game. Williams also came into the game on Saturday after deGrom’s early exit and pitched the fifth inning, giving up a solo homer to Conner Capel that stretched the A’s lead to two runs, capping off a rough week for Williams.
Joely Rodríguez immediately followed Williams both on Tuesday and on Saturday. After his fireball performance last week, his week this week was more of a mixed bag. Rodríguez successfully recorded the final two outs of the sixth inning after Williams was taken out of the game on Tuesday and then retired Rowdy Tellez on a flyout to start the seventh inning before being removed in favor of a right-hander. His outing on Saturday was less successful. He gave up a pair of singles that plated a run in 2⁄3 of an inning, necessitating Tylor Megill to record the final out of the sixth inning.
Trevor May also appeared in both Tuesday and Saturday’s games and was hit pretty hard. After Rodríguez retired Tellez to lead off the seventh inning on Tuesday, May came in the game and worked around a pair of singles to avoid giving up a run, recording both outs via the strikeout. He was not successful in escaping without damage on Saturday, however. In the eighth inning, May yielded two walks and two singles that resulted in two runs. Those runs were hardly consequential, as the A’s were already running away with the game at that point. Still, it was not a strong outing for May.