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Mets Player Performance Meter: Pitchers, March 30-April 9

A quick review of how the Mets’ pitchers fared over the first ten games of the season.

Miami Marlins v. New York Mets Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Hello, Amazin’ Avenue readers! It is the Monday after the first full week of the 2023 season, which means that meters are back! I will be publishing these meters—one for position players and one for pitchers—every Monday reflecting a snapshot of each player’s performance over the previous week’s games.

Compared to the position players, the Mets’ pitching staff broke camp far less healthy. The Milwaukee series was just as ugly for Mets pitchers as it was for the hitters, but the pitching staff has otherwise (mostly) held its own despite key absences. Tylor Megill in particular has filled in admirably in a rotation in which Kodai Senga has been the standout performer. Carlos Carrasco’s first two starts, however, have not inspired confidence. In a Narco-less bullpen, David Robertson has a clean sheet so far as the Mets’ closer. Pretty much every other reliever has had one bad performance outnumbered by a few good performances and the bullpen has been solid as a group overall.

As I did with the position players, let’s peel the Band-Aid off and get the injuries out of the way first. As we already know, both Edwin Díaz and José Quintana are sidelined long-term—the former for potentially the whole season and the latter at least until the All-Star break. After triumphantly making the Opening Day bullpen, Tommy Hunter’s back has unfortunately acted up again after just four innings of work; it is unclear how much time he’ll need on the injured list. The biggest surprise, but also hopefully the shortest IL stint is that of marquee offseason acquisition Justin Verlander, who should make his season debut before the end of the month.

With not just one, but two starting pitchers on the injured list, both David Peterson and Tylor Megill are currently in the Mets’ rotation. Peterson is the one who won the fifth starter role vacated by Quintana out of camp by outperforming Megill in spring. But so far in the regular season, it is Megill who has outperformed Peterson. The Mets lost both games Peterson started in the opening three series of the year. To be fair to Peterson, the Mets scored only one run in his first start, but unfortunately he took the loss anyway. His first start was the quintessential “limiting the damage” David Peterson experience; he gave up just one run despite allowing eight hits, but lasted only five innings. He struck out five batters and walked one in the outing. His second start was not as successful. In the series finale in Milwaukee, Peterson allowed five runs in just four innings of work. His Achilles heel—the walk—bit him again, as he walked five batters in the outing. The Mets came from behind to avoid tagging him with a second loss, but went on to lose the game in walk-off fashion.

In contrast, the Mets won both games Megill pitched to open the season. Megill was blessed with more run support than Peterson, but his outings were also more successful. In last Saturday’s game in Miami, Megill did deal with a lot of traffic on the base paths, allowing six hits and issuing two walks over five innings of work. But like Peterson, he limited the damage to just two runs over that span, thanks in part to seven strikeouts, earning the win for the effort. Megill also pitched the Mets’ home opener in place of the injured Verlander and twirled a gem, tossing six scoreless innings and giving up just three hits, cruising his way to his second victory of the season. When Verlander does return, the choice of who to boot from the rotation is not entirely obvious.

That is even more true because of all the Mets’ starters, Carlos Carrasco has performed the worst in the early going, getting bombed in both of his outings to begin 2023. The series in Milwaukee was not kind to most of the Mets’ pitchers, but the bludgeoning began with Carrasco, who gave up five runs in four innings in the opening game of that awful series, including a two-run homer to former NL East foe Brian Anderson. He walked four and struck out four in that brief and brutal outing. Against the Marlins, things did not go any better. In yesterday’s game, Carrasco surrendered six runs in 4 23 innings of work, including two long balls, and struck out just one batter. It is not just the results that are concerning for Carrasco. Of all the pitchers on the Mets’ staff, he is having the toughest time adjusting to the pitch clock and is fatiguing quickly in his outings, his velocity dropping to an alarming degree once he hits the middle innings. Carrasco needs to figure things out quickly or the Mets can ill afford to continue sending him out there; hopefully the Oakland Athletics will prove to be an opponent that can help him right the ship.

In the absence of Verlander, the Mets have needed Max Scherzer to be an ace more than ever and so far results have been mixed. Scherzer delivered a quality start and earned the win on Opening Day in Miami, but clearly lost steam in the sixth inning, which is when the Marlins scored all their runs. The Mets rallied for two in the top of the seventh to secure the win for Scherzer, who struck out six and walked two in a strong opening outing. Scherzer’s second start, however, was not as strong. He took the loss in the second game of the accursed Brewers series and was bitten by the long ball, allowing three home runs in 5 13 innings of work. Of course it doesn’t really matter whether Scherzer gave up no runs or the five he did give up; the Mets were shut out in that game for the second straight day. Still, it was an ugly one for Max.

Perhaps because he didn’t have to pitch in Milwaukee, the Mets’ best starting pitcher so far has been Kodai Senga, who is 2-0 to start the season. Though it took a little bit for Senga to find his groove in his first outing in the series finale in Miami, once he settled in, the ghost fork was bewildering hitters left and right. Senga allowed one run on three hits and struck out eight batters in 5 13 innings in his Mets debut. In his Citi Field debut on Saturday—also against the Marlins—he was even better, delivering the quality start by allowing just one run on three hits in six innings of work to earn his second win. He struck out six batters and walked three in that outing and was noticeably fatiguing in the sixth, but hopefully he’ll be able to build his stamina as the season goes along.

While Senga was the MVP in the rotation in the Mets’ first ten games, David Robertson has been the standout performer in the bullpen, earning the fireball for still holding a 0.00 ERA through his first four appearances. He has racked up two saves so far—the first on Opening Day, in which he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning with two strikeouts and the second in relief of Senga on Saturday, in which he needed just eleven pitches to complete another 1-2-3 inning. Robertson allowed a hit, but nothing else in relief of Megill in a non-save situation in the ninth inning of last Saturday’s victory in Miami. He also tossed a 1-2-3 eighth inning in a tie game in the series finale in Milwaukee.

Unfortunately, we all know how that series finale against the Brewers ended. Adam Ottavino—the Mets’ other high-leverage reliever in Edwin Díaz’s absence—gave up a walk-off home run to Garrett Mitchell in the ninth. It is the only blemish on Ottavino’s otherwise pristine record to start the season, but it looms large because it helped the Brewers complete the series sweep. Ottavino bent but did not break in his first outing of 2023 when he gave up two hits, but struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning last Saturday, setting things up for Robertson and earning his first hold of the season. The day before the disastrous walk-off loss, Ottavino pitched a scoreless eighth inning in a blowout situation because the Mets’ bullpen was otherwise depleted. In the Mets’ home opener on Friday, Ottavino tossed a 1-2-3 seventh inning with two strikeouts in relief of Tylor Megill, helping the Mets to victory in their first game at Citi Field.

The Mets’ home opener represented the only poor outing for Dennis Santana so far this season. In the eighth inning with the Mets up by six runs, Santana issued two two-out walks before giving up a three-run homer to Garrett Cooper to get the Marlins back in the game. However, the Mets ultimately added insurance runs and still won the game rather handily. Otherwise, Santana has been very good so far. He earned a hold in relief of Megill for a 1-2-3 sixth inning in last Saturday’s victory, retired two batters via the strikeout to finish out the sixth inning in relief of Kodai Senga in the series finale in Miami, and loaded the bases but did not allow a run in yesterday’s loss.

Stephen Nogosek has come to be relied upon as the Mets’ long man out of the bullpen this season so far and has done an admirable job. He took on the bulk of the relief work yesterday after Carrasco’s debacle and gave up one run on three hits through 3 13 innings of work, striking out five batters and walking one. Nogosek finished off last Sunday’s victory with two scoreless innings of work, in which he allowed one hit, struck out one batter, and walked two.

John Curtiss, signed in the 2021-2022 offseason and finally recovered from Tommy John surgery, has also been an early standout performer in the Mets bullpen, riding the wave of his strong performance in spring training. Curtiss was greeted rudely to start the season, giving up a solo homer to Jazz Chisolm Jr. in the eighth inning of last Friday’s loss in Miami, which proved to be a key insurance run for the Marlins that was the difference in the game. However, he has not given up anything since. He pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning nestled between Santana and Nogosek in the series finale in Miami and two scoreless innings complete with three strikeouts in the heartbreaking walk-off loss against the Brewers. He earned his first hold of the season with 1 13 hitless innings in Saturday’s victory.

Curtiss entered the game on Saturday to relieve the struggling Brooks Raley, who loaded the bases. Curtiss managed to escape the jam, leaving Raley’s ERA undamaged by the events, but results have been somewhat mixed for the Mets’ lefty reliever so far. Raley looked virtually unhittable on Opening Day, tossing a 1-2-3 eighth inning with two strikeouts to set things up for Robertson. He earned his second hold of the season by recording the final out of the seventh inning in last Saturday’s victory, bailing out Drew Smith. But like many other Mets pitchers, things got ugly for Raley in Milwaukee. The Brewers hit three home runs off Max Scherzer in Tuesday’s blowout loss and they hit two more home runs off Raley, who was tattooed for four runs in the inning, putting his season ERA at 12.00 for one bad outing. Such is the life of a reliever.

Drew Smith’s early season has also been somewhat of a mixed bag. The run that scored on the RBI hit by Luis Arráez on Saturday given up by Raley was charged to Smith, who began the inning by walking a batter and then also allowed a one-out single before being removed from the game. As alluded to earlier, Raley also had to bail out Smith last Saturday, but he did so successfully, leaving Smith’s line in tact. Smith also allowed a run in the fifth inning of the series finale in Milwaukee, but did manage to avoid a blowup inning that could have been way worse. He also pitched a scoreless seventh inning in relief of Max Scherzer on Opening Day, giving up one hit but striking out two batters.

Denyi Reyes joined the Mets bullpen when Tommy Hunter went on the injured list and has been unscored upon in two outings so far. He recorded the final two outs in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s lopsided loss against the Brewers in relief of Scherzer and pitched a scoreless ninth inning in the Mets’ home opener on Friday.