It’s the week of the sideways arrow on the pitching meter. Each of the members of the rotation pitched once this week and José Butto made a spot start, allowing some of the starters some extra rest—namely Max Scherzer, whose next start has been pushed back to Wednesday due to some lingering back soreness. And clearly the rotation pitched well enough to keep the Mets in every game this week; Carlos Carrasco in particular took a major step forward in his start this week. However, Mets starters as a group are failing to go deep into games, which is having a domino effect on the bullpen and is arguably the factor you can point to as the underlying cause of the Mets’ one loss this week.
We will start with giving José Butto kudos for his performance in yesterday’s game, which was much better than his major league debut last year. Obviously the quality of the opponent may have had something to do with it, but Butto was much more effective this time around. He still walked too many batters—four in five innings of work. But he limited the damage to just one run on five hits and the Mets went on to win the game in extra innings.
Denyi Reyes immediately followed Butto yesterday and tossed two scoreless innings, protecting a skinny one-run lead. Reyes also contributed 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings of work in relief of David Peterson in Tuesday’s loss—another close game. Reyes continues to be a pleasant surprise. He has yet to be scored upon in his four appearances as a Met so far.
The one blemish on the bullpen’s record yesterday belonged to John Curtiss. It feels like each Mets relief pitcher has been good overall, but almost everyone has had their one requisite bad outing and yesterday was Curtiss’. He blew the one-run lead in the eighth yesterday, allowing a two-run double to Shea Langeliers. But luckily for Curtiss, the Mets went on to bail him out and win the game. Curtiss avoids a negative mark for the week because he was good in his other two outings this week. Despite two walks, he pitched a scoreless sixth inning in relief of Max Scherzer in Monday’s victory, earning his second hold of the season. And he finished out Friday night’s blowout victory with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The newest member of the Mets’ bullpen Jimmy Yacabonis bent but did not break in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game yesterday. He walked his first batter and then allowed a single to push the winning run into scoring position, but he bounced back to strike out Ramón Laureano for the first out. He was then assisted by a fantastic diving catch by Brandon Nimmo that saved the game, which is why he only gets the side arrow for his scoreless inning; he was somewhat lucky to get out of it unscathed. But it was still a gritty performance from Yacabonis, who got Aledmys Diaz to pop out to end the threat and set the stage for the Mets to win the game in the tenth.
The only Mets pitcher that had a bad performance that was truly costly this week was arguably Dennis Santana, who came into the game on Tuesday with the Mets down a run and allowed a two-run homer to Xander Bogaerts that provided key insurance for the Padres. The Mets went on to score a run in the bottom of the ninth, but the rally came up short because of the insurance runs allowed by Santana. But he avoids being slapped with the down arrow for this because he bounced back with 2 1⁄3 solid innings of long relief on Friday night, earning the win in that contest. He was forced into service in that game unexpectedly after Stephen Nogosek was struck by a line drive on the arm and had to leave the game and he gave up one run on two hits with two strikeouts. When Yacabonis and Butto were called up for yesterday’s game, Santana was designated for assignment.
Stephen Nogosek gave up a run on four hits in his one inning of work with the Mets up big before injury forced him out of the game. Luckily imaging revealed no structural damage, but Nogosek—who had been acting as a pseudo long man out of the bullpen—has been placed on the injured list with a bone bruise. Hopefully he will not be sidelined for too long.
David Peterson took the somewhat tough luck loss on Tuesday for an overall solid performance. Peterson allowed two runs on six hits in 5 2⁄3 innings of work to a very good Padres lineup. He struck out six batters and walked only two—a much better ratio than his previous outings. Peterson’s outing was actually the longest of any Mets starting pitcher this week.
Though Max Scherzer only lasted five innings in Monday’s victory, his outing was the best of any Mets starter this week. He pitched five scoreless innings and ultimately outdueled Yu Darvish. He allowed only one hit, walked three, and struck out six, earning the win. If he makes his next start on Wednesday, then the Mets likely don’t have much to be concerned about, but the Mets can ill afford an IL stint from their co-ace with Verlander still sidelined.
After the scoreless sixth from Curtiss, Drew Smith came in the game on Monday and started his week off strong, working around a walk and striking out two in a scoreless seventh inning. Smith has a clean sheet this week—unscored upon in any of his three outings. Smith came into Wednesday’s game in the sixth inning to help Brooks Raley out of a jam, striking out Austin Nola to end the inning and preserve what was at the time a one-run lead. Smith came back out for the seventh and walked two batters, necessitating David Robertson to finish the inning for him, but Robertson did so without incident, preserving Smith’s 0.00 ERA for the week. Smith finished his week with 1 1⁄3 hitless innings on Saturday complete with two strikeouts, earning the victory in that contest.
Brooks Raley put up a 0.00 ERA as well this week, though part of that was thanks to Smith as I noted above. With the lefties coming up in the sixth inning of Wednesday’s game, Raley was called upon. But he allowed a leadoff double to Juan Soto and hit Jake Cronenworth with a pitch with one out before bouncing back to retire Matt Carpenter and then yielding to Smith to finish the inning. The day before in Tuesday’s loss, Raley pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning before Santana allowed the tack-on runs in the ninth. Raley returned the favor to Smith in Saturday’s victory for retiring the final two batters in the seventh after Smith hit a batter with a pitch to allow the tying run to reach base. But Raley stranded his inherited runner to preserve his clean sheet for the week.
Saturday’s victory was started by Carlos Carrasco, who didn’t exactly pitch well, but compared to his previous two starts, Saturday’s outing was miles better. Unexpectedly, two pitchers whose ERAs were in double digits coming into the game engaged in a pitcher’s duel. Carrasco allowed two runs over five innings of work. Both of those runs came in a rocky second inning, but Carrasco was able to bounce back and put up three zeros after that. He struck out three batters and walked one in the outing. Here’s hoping this was a turning point for him.
David Robertson continues to be the rock of the Mets bullpen and once again earns the only fireball for the whole pitching staff this week. He locked down two consecutive saves over the weekend, protecting a one-run lead for Carrasco in the ninth in Saturday’s victory, and stranding the Manfred Man in the tenth inning of yesterday’s extra-inning win with a 1-2-3 frame. Buck Showalter also used Robertson in a high-leverage situation in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s game to help secure the series victory against the Padres. Robertson retired Juan Soto for the key third out of that seventh inning and then pitched the eighth inning as well, allowing two hits, but no runs. For the effort, he earned his first hold of the season.
Adam Ottavino followed Robertson on Wednesday and earned his first save of the season, working around a walk to pitch a scoreless ninth. Ottavino also pitched the ninth inning of Monday’s victory, allowing a hit, but striking out the other three batters he faced. Ottavino completed his perfect week with a scoreless eighth inning to set things up for Robertson on Saturday, walking two batters and striking out one in the process. Outside of the walk-off loss in Milwaukee, Ottavino continues to be excellent; he currently holds a 1.50 ERA for the season.
Ottavino’s first save came at the benefit of Tylor Megill, who is now 3-0 on the season, continuing his winning ways in the month of April. Though he’s not looking quite as overpowering as he did last April, this success looks perhaps more sustainable. Like the rest of the rotation, longevity in games is a problem for Megill; he pitched just five innings on Wednesday. Over those five innings, he allowed two runs on three hits, walking three batters and striking out three batters. Really Megill’s only mistake was a meatball he threw to Juan Soto in the first inning that Soto practically sent to space, which will happen to even the best of pitchers since, you know, it’s literally Juan Soto. But it was otherwise another strong outing for Megill.
Kodai Senga, meanwhile, had probably his worst start thus far, but it didn’t matter much since the Mets were scoring runs in bushels on Friday. Senga struck out seven batters, but he left a few too many ghosts over the plate, allowing four runs on seven hits (including two home runs) over 4 2⁄3 innings of work. Senga also didn’t have terribly good command on Friday, walking four batters. But, the double-edged sword of the Mets having two separate six-run innings on the chilly night in Oakland was that Senga had to warm up in the bullpen as the Mets were still batting in the fifth. It’s possible that these long layovers affected him, but hopefully he’ll bounce back in his next outing.