The Mets’ starting rotation—at least the group of starting pitchers the Mets broke camp with, that is—was a bit of a tire fire this week. Max Scherzer was ejected the game on Wednesday after just three innings (and subsequently suspended) and everyone else pitched poorly. The only good starting pitching performance the Mets got this week came from Joey Lucchesi. That said, despite the loss of Edwin Díaz before the season even began and despite the necessary shuffling of personnel, the Mets bullpen continues to be a bright spot this season. Sure, individual relievers have had poor performances here and there, but as a group they have been spectacular and key contributions have come from unlikely sources. The Mets currently have the lowest bullpen ERA in the National League, which is really pretty amazing considering the adversity they have already faced and how much they have already been stretched.
We’ll start with Max Scherzer, who I can’t really give a true grade this week. If this were a school report card rather than an emoji-based assessment, he’d get an incomplete for the week. As such, ignoring whether one feels he is guilty or has been unfairly persecuted (that is a topic for another post), he simply gets a side arrow because he pitched three scoreless innings when he was on the field, but was ejected before he could factor into the decision. In his three innings of work, he gave up one hit, struck out three, and walked two. Given Scherzer’s decision to serve his ten-game suspension right away rather than fight a seemingly uphill battle to appeal, he will be eligible to return for the Braves series.
It was Jimmy Yacabonis who was the hero in long relief after Scherzer was ejected on Wednesday, giving up one run on two hits in 2 2⁄3 innings of work. He walked one batter and struck out one batter in the outing. For keeping the Mets in the game and avoiding having to burn the bullpen completely, he earned a much-deserved win—his second of the season. That represented his only work for the week.
Yacabonis was not the only long relief hero this week. Edwin Uceta—freshly claimed off waivers from the Pirates and called up when José Butto was sent back down to Triple-A after his spot start—pitched three scoreless, hitless innings of long relief in Saturday’s loss. He walked two batters and struck out three in the outing. He earns an up arrow for a strong Mets debut.
Uceta was pitching in relief of David Peterson, who was pretty dreadful on Saturday. Despite striking out eight batters in five innings of work, Peterson was hit hard. He gave up seven runs on seven hits, including two home runs. Six of those seven runs came in the first two innings of the game, putting the Mets in an early hole that proved too deep to climb out of. He took the loss in that outing—his third of the season. Though Peterson got the win in the other game he pitched this week on Monday, it was mostly thanks to the Mets’ bats, who managed to outslug the Dodgers. For his part, Peterson gave up three home runs and six runs in six innings of work, striking out six batters and walking none. The only Met with an ERA in the double-digits for the week, Peterson gets tagged with the poop emoji.
Tylor Megill had been filling in more admirably than Peterson until this point, but he didn’t pitch much better than Peterson in his two outings this week. He was okay in Tuesday’s game, limiting the damage to three runs on seven hits, but lasting only five innings, in part because he walked four batters. He also fell victim to the long ball, giving up two home runs in the outing. However, Megill’s performance didn’t matter much, as he ran into the brick wall that is a vintage Clayton Kershaw start and took the loss. Things went even worse for Megill yesterday, as he lasted just four innings and gave up four runs on six hits, striking out two and walking one. The Mets managed to stay in the game by yanking Megill early, but ultimately lost 5-4. Given Scherzer’s suspension and continued injury woes in the Mets’ rotation, Megill and Peterson will likely still be in the rotation for at least another week or two and the Mets are going to need them to pitch better than this if they can hope to stay afloat.
One of the aforementioned injuries is to Carlos Carrasco, who is dealing with elbow inflammation caused by a bone spur. The Mets are hoping the inflammation can be treated with cortisone injections and he will begin a throwing program this week to see if he can return in May, but if the bone spur continues to trouble him, he may need surgery. At least this may be an explanation for Carrasco’s poor performance to start the year.
In the meantime, Joey Lucchesi was called up from Triple-A to fill the vacated slot in the rotation, pitching on a big league mound on Friday for the first time since having Tommy John surgery in June of 2021. Lucchesi was nothing short of brilliant, giving the Mets their best pitching performance of the week by far. Lucchesi was the first Mets starter to throw a pitch in the seventh inning this season; not only that, he completed seven scoreless innings of work, giving up just four hits and striking out nine batters while walking two. The Mets cruised their way to a 7-0 victory and Lucchesi earned the win. The Return of the Churve was nothing short of triumphant and for that, Lucchesi earns a fireball this week.
There was also another somewhat less heralded return that occurred on Friday. Tommy Hunter returned from the injured list and worked around a hit to pitch a scoreless ninth inning in relief of Lucchesi. That was Hunter’s only outing this week.
Brooks Raley pitched the eighth on Friday and tossed a 1-2-3 frame, complete with two strikeouts. The lefty has been absolutely untouchable lately, unscored upon in any of his four outings this week. He earned a hold for 1 2⁄3 scoreless innings of work in Monday’s victory, striking out two batters and earned another hold for a 1-2-3 sixth inning in Saturday’s win. Raley now shares the MLB lead in holds with old friend Colin Holderman. Raley also kept yesterday’s game tied, entering the game in the seventh inning and working around a hit to pitch a scoreless inning, striking out the other three batters he faced.
After Megill’s early departure from the game yesterday, it was Jeff Brigham—called up when Carrasco was placed on the injured list—who was the bullpen hero in that contest, pitching two hitless innings with four strikeouts to keep the Mets in the game. Since being recalled, Brigham has looked dominant; he has yet to allow a baserunner in four appearances, striking out seven batters across four total innings of work. Brigham pitched 2⁄3 of an inning in Tuesday’s loss, retiring both batters he faced via the strikeout. He also recorded the final out of the sixth inning on Wednesday with the tying run on base, protecting what was at the time a one-run lead. Finally, pitching on the third straight day, he tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning in Thursday’s victory. For an incredible first week with the Mets, Brigham earns a fireball and will likely keep his spot in the bullpen even as others are sent down when pitchers return from the injured list.
Unfortunately, after Brigham kept the game tied for two innings yesterday, Drew Smith ultimately took the loss for giving up the go-ahead run in the eighth inning on a walk and a Mike Yastrzemski RBI double. Puzzlingly, both Adam Ottavino and David Robertson were available, but Buck Showalter opted to go to Smith instead and Smith did not get the job done. It was otherwise a good week for Smith, who was not scored upon in any of his other three outings this week. He recorded the key final out of the eighth inning in Monday’s win, retiring Miguel Vargas—representing the tying run at the plate—via the strikeout. He also earned a hold for a 1-2-3 seventh inning in Wednesday’s victory and worked around a hit to pitch a scoreless eighth inning in Thursday’s win.
Kodai Senga started Thursday’s game and for the second straight start, he had a shaky outing. But, for the second straight start, it didn’t matter because the Mets gave him an abundance of run support. The frustrating thing about this start for Senga was that he was mostly cruising through the first four innings, but then things fell apart for him in the fifth when he gave up two solo homers and four runs in total to bring the Giants within a run. Senga earned his third win of the season, but now holds a 4.29 ERA.
John Curtiss contributed a scoreless seventh inning of relief in Thursday’s victory, but was sent down to Triple-A the next day to make room for Joey Lucchesi on the roster. It was somewhat of a surprise, as Curtiss had been pitching well, but such is the thankless job of a reliever with options. Curtiss’ outing on Tuesday was not as positive; he allowed two insurance runs to the Dodgers in the eighth inning, but it wasn’t too consequential in the final result since the Mets were shut out. Curtiss will likely be back with the big league club before too long.
Denyi Reyes also pitched on Tuesday and held the fort for 1 1⁄3 innings after Megill’s night was over. He struck out two batters and walked two batters in the outing. Despite being unscored upon in any of his outings with the Mets, he too was sent down to Triple-A this week. But given how thin the Mets now are when it comes to starting pitching depth, the Mets intend to stretch Reyes out as a starter to give them another option down the line.
David Robertson appeared in just one game this week and earned his second hold of the season in Wednesday’s rubber game victory against the Dodgers. Robertson was called upon in the eighth inning to face the heart of the order, as Buck Showalter sometimes did with Edwin Díaz last year. Robertson broke his scoreless streak and allowed a run on a walk, a wild pitch, and a J.D. Martinez RBI double. But, he got out of the inning with the Mets’ lead still in tact.
The Mets then tacked on some insurance in the ninth on Wednesday and Adam Ottavino came in to close things out for the Mets. The insurance proved useful, as Ottavino allowed a solo homer to David Peralta in the bottom of the ninth. But like Robertson, he did enough to secure the victory, earning his third save of the season. It was his second save of the week; he also earned the save in Monday’s win, tossing a 1-2-3 ninth inning in that victory. Ottavino has a sparkling 2.25 ERA for the season.