The Mets pitching staff still has a long way to go before the dire circumstances the Mets have been operating under can be considered improved. But, we saw the first glimmers of hope this week with good starts from Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, which represent two of the Mets’ three victories this week. David Robertson and the rest of the Mets’ high leverage relievers continue to be great and the bullpen was bolstered this week by the return of Brooks Raley from the injured list. However, the cast of characters pitching the middle innings for the Mets continues to churn with mixed results. David Peterson represents the lone poop emoji this week with an opportunity to bounce back with a start today against the Nationals and Kodai Senga gave a poor performance this week as well.
We’ll start with Justin Verlander’s start on Wednesday, which was like a breath of fresh air for this beleaguered pitching staff and is the standout performance this week. Verlander gave the Mets an elusive quality start, allowing just one run on two hits over seven innings of work. He struck out seven and walked two in the outing. After shaking the rust off in his Mets debut, he looked pretty much like the Hall of Fame bound pitcher that the Mets signed up for in his first Mets win of the season.
Wednesday’s win—the lone victory in the Reds series—followed the exact formula the Mets likely envisioned at the beginning of the season. After Verlander’s seven strong innings, Adam Ottavino came in and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning with a strikeout, earning his third hold of the season. After a rocky week last week, Ottavino had a clean sheet this week across his three appearances. With the Mets attempting a comeback on Tuesday, Ottavino delivered a 1-2-3 seventh inning. He earned another hold on Friday night with a 1-2-3 seventh inning complete with a strikeout.
David Robertson followed Ottavino in both Wednesday and Friday’s victories. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning with two strikeouts on Wednesday, protecting the Mets’ skinny one-run lead to earn his seventh save of the season. After retiring the heart of the Nationals’ order 1-2-3 in the eighth inning on Friday, Robertson came back out for the ninth inning and got two outs via the strikeout, but also walked two batters to allow the tying run to get into scoring position.
Drew Smith stepped up to bail out Robertson and secure the victory by striking out Lane Thomas to end the game. Smith too posted a clean sheet this week, pitching a 1-2-3 eighth inning complete with a strikeout in Tuesday’s loss with the Mets down a run, allowing them one more shot at a comeback.
It turns out that Robertson was called into extended service on Friday because Dominic Leone—originally slotted to face the bottom of the order in the ninth—felt some elbow discomfort when warming up in the bullpen. Luckily, it was not a major issue for Leone and he was able to avoid the injured list. Leone took the loss in yesterday’s resumed game, allowing a solo homer to C.J. Abrams that turned out to be the difference in the game. Leone also recorded the final two outs of the eighth inning in Thursday’s loss without allowing a baserunner.
On Saturday night before the disastrous four-hour rain delay and subsequent suspension of the game, Joey Lucchesi pitched two innings and allowed a run on four hits and a walk. He clearly struggled, but conditions were not exactly favorable for his success. His grade this week is more like an incomplete, but after dealing with a damp, abbreviating outing, he was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse in the middle of a game he started, which feels like a bit of a slap in the face even if it was necessary from a roster perspective.
Dennis Santana was recalled in Lucchesi’s place and pitched a scoreless eighth inning in yesterday’s resumed game, giving up one hit and striking out a batter in the process. After that one appearance, Santana was once again unceremoniously designated for assignment.
Stephen Nogosek started things off for the Mets in the resumed game yesterday and was solid in long relief, allowing one run on three hits over three innings of work. He struck out two batters and walked one in the outing. Unfortunately, Nogosek’s other stint in long relief this week did not go as well. After navigating the mess left by David Peterson in the fourth inning on Tuesday by recording the final two outs of that frame, he came back out for the fifth and allowed three additional runs, putting the game further out of reach for the Mets. To be fair to Nogosek, he was hurt by a very bad call (or non-call of interference, I should say) by the umpires, but he did not help his own cause either.
David Peterson started Tuesday’s game in place of Max Scherzer, who was scratched due to neck spasms. He had yet another poor outing, yielding four runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts. The Mets almost came back to win the game, but fell just short, so Peterson was tagged with his fifth loss of the season. He earns the lone poop emoji in this week’s meter. His 2023 ERA is now 7.68, but he’ll get at least one more chance to improve that mark in this afternoon’s game. When the Mets recalled Peterson, they also placed Jimmy Yacabonis on the injured list with a left quad strain.
After Nogosek left the game on Tuesday, the bullpen settled things down, setting things up for the near-comeback. That began with Jeff Brigham, who worked around a walk to pitch a scoreless inning, striking out two batters in the process. Brigham was unscored upon in any of his three appearances this week. He earned his second hold of the season for a scoreless sixth inning on Friday night and pitched another scoreless inning in yesterday’s Game 2 victory, yielding one hit and striking out two batters.
Brigham’s scoreless sixth in Friday’s win came in relief of Tylor Megill and helped set the table for Ottavino and Robertson. Megill struggled with his command, walking four batters in his five innings of work. He also struck out four batters. He allowed two runs, but only one of those runs was earned due to a Francisco Lindor error. Megill did just enough to earn the win—his fourth of the season.
Max Scherzer also earned the win for his performance in yesterday’s Game 2 victory against the Nationals. He too only pitched five innings which is the one knock on his performance, but it’s clear he was being eased back into things in his return to the mound from neck spasms. Scherzer gave up just one run on two hits, walking two and striking out six. The Mets’ co-aces both looking sharp in their starts is by far the most positive takeaway from this week.
Game 2 yesterday also marked Brooks Raley’s return from the injured list. In the sixth inning with the Mets up big, Raley was handed a low-leverage spot for his first appearance back and looked shaky. He walked three batters in the inning, but didn’t allow any runs. He also struck out a batter. Hopefully this is just Raley shaking the cobwebs off.
Zach Muckenhirn served as the 27th man yesterday and gave up a run on four hits over two innings of work. However, the run hardly mattered with the Mets giving him a nice seven-run cushion to work with. He struck out two batters and walked one in the outing.
Aside from Peterson, Kodai Senga put forth what was probably the worst pitching performance of the week—at least on paper. The Reds dropped a four spot on Senga in the first inning and it certainly looks ugly in the box score. That said, he gave up only one or two hard hit balls the entire inning and was cursed with some pretty bad batted ball luck as the Reds blooped and bled their way to an early lead. This fact is what helps him avoid the poop emoji despite the bad results. Senga settled down really nicely after that disastrous first inning and ended up going five innings in a game when it seemed like he may be knocked out early. He ended up striking out seven batters over those five innings, but still took the loss, as the Mets were shut out by the Reds bullpen in what was ultimately a pretty embarrassing display by the offense in that game.
Tommy Hunter contributed 2 1⁄3 scoreless innings in long relief after Senga left the game on Thursday, representing his only work for the week. He gave up two hits, struck out two, and walked none in the outing, getting himself back in the green this week.