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Mets Player Performance Meter: Pitchers, August 29-September 4

A quick review of how the Mets’ pitchers fared over the past week.

New York Mets Jacob deGrom reacts during a game at Citi Field Photo by Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Given the fact that the Mets lost back-to-back 7-1 games against the Juan Soto and Josh Bell-less Washington Nationals, you’d think this meter would look a lot worse. But really the bad pitching performances were confined to just a couple of players, one of whom is no longer on the roster. And meanwhile, the pitching staff fared very well against a formidable Dodgers lineup. This week saw Trevor May hit the injured list for an undisclosed (likely COVID-related) reason, but Tommy Hunter and Carlos Carrasco both made their returns from the injured list, although the latter less successfully than the former. Max Scherzer had to leave his start early due to left side fatigue and the game got away from the Mets after his departure, but the Mets are confident he will miss only one start. With Tylor Megill progressing in his rehab and Drew Smith also set to return in the somewhat near future, the Mets’ pitching staff is getting progressively healthier, but questions remain regarding Carlos Carrasco’s health and the relative dearth of reliable late-inning options. However, this week, Mychal Givens finally had a strong week and Seth Lugo continues to shine.

Let’s start with Carlos Carrasco’s performance yesterday, which left a lot to be desired. He gave up a run right away in the first inning, but was able to limit the damage with a timely double play. He then seemed to settle in, tossing a relatively quick scoreless second inning. But then things unraveled on him in the third. It’s true that Jeff McNeil botched what could have been an inning-ending double play and maybe we would not be having this conversation. But, Carrasco simply could not put the inning to bed after that and ended up surrendering four runs before being lifted from the game, unable to finish the third inning. He avoids the poop emoji because none of those third inning runs were earned, so in the end he was only charged with one run over 2 23 innings, striking out two batters and walking two batters. But it was still abundantly clear that Carrasco was not quite himself and maybe could have used a rehab start or two before returning to big league action.

Trevor Williams picked up the bulk of the innings in long relief yesterday after Carrasco’s early exit after not pitching for two weeks. Although Williams was not as impeccably good as he had been recently, he did what the Mets needed him to do by eating the innings. He picked up Carrasco by recording the final out in the third without allowing any of his inherited runners to score and then he pitched four additional innings after that, allowing two runs on five hits, striking out three batters, and walking two.

Tommy Hunter, back from the injured list, pitched the final two innings of yesterday’s game in mop-up duty. He allowed just one baserunner over those two frames via a walk and struck out one batter. Hunter gets a perfect clean sheet in his first week back; he finished the seventh inning of Tuesday’s loss after the Dodgers took the lead against Joely Rodríguez and he worked around two hits to pitch a scoreless sixth inning after Max Scherzer’s early exit on Saturday.

Max Scherzer had been pitching well on Saturday before he took the cautious (and likely appropriate) route of not pushing himself through the fatigue he was feeling in his left side. The only damage off Scherzer through five innings of work was a first-inning solo homer off the bat of Luis García. Scherzer yielded three total hits in the five frames, struck out five batters, and walked one. Hopefully the fatigue is not a lasting issue for him and he will be able to go deeper into the game in his next start.

It was Adam Ottavino who took the loss on Saturday—his third loss of the season—for giving up the go-ahead homer to Lane Thomas in the eighth inning that snapped a 1-1 tie. But Ottavino does not get bad marks for this week; his other two outings were excellent. Ottavino pitched on back-to-back days in high leverage in the Dodgers series and was successful both times. On Wednesday, he earned his 18th hold of the season for pitching a scoreless eighth inning in relief of Jacob deGrom to set things up for Edwin Díaz. He struck out two batters in the outing. He then turned around the following day and earned his third save of the season, protecting a two-run lead and also striking out two batters in that outing.

Although it was Ottavino who took the loss on Saturday, it was Adonis Medina who let the game get away. He started the ninth inning with the Mets down a run and his job was to keep the Nationals off the board to at least give the Mets a chance to come back in the bottom of the frame. He failed to even get out of the inning. He recorded just one out and gave up five runs, four of which were earned. When Carrasco was activated from the injured list yesterday, Medina was sent back down to the minors.

When Trevor May was placed on the injured list on Saturday without an injury designation, righty Bryce Montes de Oca was called up to take his place on the roster. May pitched a scoreless seventh inning in Thursday’s victory and earned his fifth hold of the season; this represents his only work for the week before hitting the IL. Montes de Oca came in the game to clean up Medina’s mess on Saturday and gave up a hit and a walk but didn’t allow any additional runs to score. He also struck out a batter in his first Mets outing. As of right now, Montes de Oca remains on the roster, but may be sent back down when the next rehabbing pitcher returns.

Now that we have the weekend’s unpleasantness out of the way, most of the rest of this meter is positive. Jacob deGrom gave the Mets the ace performance they needed against the Dodgers, surrendering just one run on a solo homer by Mookie Betts through seven innings of work on Wednesday. He struck out nine batters and walked one. Of course, he may have left with the game tied if not for Brandon Nimmo’s spectacular play robbing Justin Turner of a game-tying homer. Nonetheless, deGrom was still excellent, earning his fourth win of the season.

After Ottavino’s scoreless eighth, Edwin Díaz entered the game with Timmy Trumpet playing his signature entrance music live in an absolutely electric environment. And Díaz delivered an electric performance to go along with it, tossing a 1-2-3 ninth inning to notch his 29th save of the season. The only reason Díaz does not get a fireball this week is because he allowed a run in his other outing the following day, but it did not cost the Mets the game. Buck Showalter opted to use Díaz in the eighth inning on Thursday to protect a three-run lead against the heart of the Dodgers order. He did so, but he looked human in the process. He started the inning by walking Freddie Freeman and then hitting Will Smith with a pitch to bring the tying run to the plate. He then gave up two straight well-hit, deep fly balls, but luckily both stayed in the ballpark. The first advanced the runners and the second plated a run via a sacrifice fly to bring the Dodgers within two. But Díaz shut things down after that, ending the inning with an exclamation point by striking out Gavin Lux on a 102.8mph fastball. This performance earned Díaz his fourth hold of the season.

The strong relief work from May, Díaz, and Ottavino in Thursday’s rubber game victory came in relief of Chris Bassitt, who was very good in his start this week. Bassitt held a formidable Dodgers lineup to two runs on six hits over six innings of work. He struck out four batters and walked three batters. This strong performance earned Bassitt his 12th win of the season. His season ERA stands at 3.32.

Taijuan Walker pitched the first game of the Dodgers series and delivered a fine performance, giving up three runs on five hits through 5 13 innings of work. He struck out five batters and walked three in the outing. All three Dodgers runs came in the third inning where Walker hit Joey Gallo with the bases loaded to plate the game-tying run and then gave up a go-ahead single to Gavin Lux. But he managed to settle down and stop the bleeding and Mark Canha’s game-tying homer ensured Walker did not take the loss.

It was Joely Rodríguez who ultimately took the loss on Tuesday, as he came in a tie game in the seventh inning and gave up a leadoff double to Freddie Freeman and then a one-out single to Gavin Lux. It was Rodríguez’s fourth loss of the season. However, his other two outings this week were good ones. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning in Friday’s victory complete with two strikeouts and pitched a scoreless seventh inning on Saturday before that game went south for the Mets.

But, it was a great week for Mychal Givens, who desperately needed a good week to hang his hat on. With the Mets down by a run after Rodríguez’s outing on Tuesday, Givens pitched two scoreless innings to give the Mets a chance to come back, allowing only one baserunner via a walk. He followed up that performance by earning the win on Friday, pitching 1 23 scoreless innings in relief of David Peterson.

David Peterson started Friday’s game and exited the game with the Mets losing, but ultimately the Mets came back to win. Peterson gave the usual David Peterson performance: ultimately fine, but sort of frustrating to watch. He allowed eight hits so was constantly negotiating traffic on the base paths, but he limited the Nationals to three runs over 5 13 innings of work. But in his usual Peterson fashion, he needed 95 pitches to do so. He did strike out six batters in the outing while walking only one.

After Givens negotiated the rest of the sixth inning for Peterson plus contributing a scoreless seventh, Rodríguez pitched the eighth, and Seth Lugo finished things off on Friday with a scoreless ninth inning, complete with two strikeouts. It was another strong week for Lugo, who performed a Houdini escape act on Tuesday to get out of the sixth inning without further damage to keep the Mets in striking distance. With Taijuan Walker having given up a one-out double, Lugo came in the game to record the final two outs of the inning. He did so, but he loaded the bases by walking two batters. But he was still able to come out unscathed to post a 0.00 ERA for the week. It’s Lugo’s second strong week in a row and his season ERA is now down in the low threes.