While this week was arguably the Mets’ best week of the 2023 season as far as entertaining and competitive games is concerned, the pitching staff is still definitely a mixed bag at the moment. The good news is that the Mets’ starters are finally getting healthy and in yesterday’s twin bill the Mets’ co-aces performed exactly as advertised. Kodai Senga also had arguably his best start in a Mets uniform this week. The bad news is that Carlos Carrasco, though back, did not perform well and the bullpen had a pretty rough week. This was the first week that David Robertson appeared human and Adam Ottavino did not get the job done either, but luckily the offense was able to overcome most of the pitching deficits this week.
One pitching deficit the offense could not overcome was that of David Peterson, who pitched on Monday and was terrible again, allowing six runs on nine hits in five innings of work. He struck out five batters and walked two in the outing, taking his sixth loss of the season. With Carlos Carrasco healthy, Tylor Megill pitching pretty well, and José Quintana starting to throw again, hopefully this is the last we see of Peterson on a big league mound for awhile. In Triple-A, Peterson is already showing signs of improvement, so hopefully he can work his way back at least to the pitcher he was last season. But for now, he is not playable at the big league level.
Tommy Hunter followed Peterson on Monday and also put up a stinkburger, allowing four more runs on six hits in three innings of work. With the Mets down big, Hunter was simply made to wear it and finish the game. He struck out two batters and walked none in the outing. Hunter did come into Friday night’s game with the bases loaded and record one big out to keep that inning from getting completely out of control, so he deserves credit for that in a game the Mets would eventually come back and win. But, it wasn’t enough to help him avoid the poop emoji.
That disaster inning in the seventh on Friday began with Dominic Leone coming back out for a second inning of work after not allowing any runs in the sixth. But then he loaded the bases with nobody out and was eventually charged with two runs. Leone also pitched in Tuesday’s loss and allowed a solo homer to José Siri in his one inning of work in the sixth. After a solid start for the Mets, this was Leone’s first truly rough week.
Stephen Nogosek came into the game on Friday night to try to clean up Leone’s mess and was unsuccessful. He very nearly escaped the jam when bad baserunning by the Guardians resulted in a double play for the first two outs, but Nogosek couldn’t close the door on the inning; he walked the next batter he faced, then allowed a single which charged two runs to Leone, and then walked the next batter too, necessitating Hunter’s entrance into the game to finish the inning. Nogosek also pitched the top of the ninth in Wednesday’s game and allowed a run. The offense overcame Nogosek’s shortcomings both times, but it was not a good week for the Mets’ mustachioed reliever.
After all the heroics on Friday, it’s easy to forget the game began with Carlos Carrasco’s return from the mound from bone spurs and it was unfortunately not a good one. Carrasco gave up a three-run homer in the first inning that put the Mets at a deficit right away—an all too common refrain this season. He seemed to settle down after that, but still gave up one run in the second and one run in the fifth to total five runs over five innings of work. Carrasco struck out three and walked two in the outing. Here’s hoping this was just Carrasco shaking off the cobwebs, but it’s hard to have confidence in him at this stage.
That said, Tylor Megill is beginning to settle into a rhythm and provide some stability at the back end of the Mets’ rotation. Firmly entrenched in the fifth starter’s role until Quintana’s return, Megill gave the Mets a quality start in Thursday’s series finale against a very tough Rays lineup. He yielded just two runs on four hits in six innings of work, striking out four batters and walking one. With the Mets able to hold onto the skinny one-run lead to secure the series victory, Megill earned his fifth win of the season.
Though it was a rocky week for the Mets’ bullpen overall, they were immaculate in relief of Megill on Thursday, starting with Brooks Raley, who earned his ninth hold of the season for a scoreless seventh inning complete with two strikeouts. But it is not that performance that earned Raley the fireball for this week. Raley earns a fireball this week because he pitched in both games of yesterday’s doubleheader in high leverage situations and didn’t give up a run in either appearance. He pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning in relief of Max Scherzer in Game 1 to earn his tenth hold and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning in relief of Justin Verlander in Game 2 to earn his first save of the season. Raley is the only Mets reliever to appear in more than one game this week and maintain a clean sheet for the week.
Which brings us to the duality of Justin Verlander’s week. Raley was the only reliever that needed to appear in Game 2 of yesterday’s doubleheader because vintage Justin Verlander showed himself. Verlander twirled eight brilliant innings yesterday—the first Mets pitcher to go eight innings this season. He allowed just one run—a solo homer to José Ramirez, one of the game’s elite power hitters. He struck out five batters and walked none on his way to his second victory in a Mets uniform. Of course, the problem is that Verlander’s other start this week was poor. The powerful Rays lineup tagged Verlander for six runs on eight hits in five innings in Tuesday’s loss. Verlander gave up two long balls in the outing and spoke after the game of needing to make some mechanical fixes. It appears as if he successfully did that, if yesterday’s game is any indication. Hopefully we see more of yesterday’s version of Verlander moving forward.
Perhaps the only positive takeaway from Tuesday’s loss on the pitching side of things is that Josh Walker made his major league debut for the Mets and pitched a clean seventh inning, despite walking two batters. Besides Raley, Walker is the only Mets reliever unscored upon this week. He served as the 27th man for yesterday’s doubleheader, but then was sent back down to Triple-A.
Following Verlander’s disappointing performance on Tuesday, Kodai Senga stepped up the following day and pitched arguably the best game he’s thrown in a Mets uniform so far. Senga fanned a dozen Rays batters—a career high for him and the most strikeouts in a game by a Japanese-born Mets pitcher. He gave up just one run on three hits in six innings of work. Unfortunately Senga did not factor into the decision, but he left the game with the Mets on the losing end and the Mets eventually went on to win the game in thrilling extra-inning fashion.
Max Scherzer also put forth an excellent performance this week, pitching six scoreless innings in Game 1 of yesterday’s doubleheader. He gave up just three hits while striking out five and walking one. He could have gone even deeper into the game if not for the callus on his finger that ripped open and caused discomfort for him during the game. But he powered through and delivered an ace-worthy performance.
Unfortunately, after Raley’s scoreless seventh inning, Scherzer did not benefit from strong work from the Mets bullpen. Adam Ottavino was the main culprit, coming into the game in the eighth inning and only recording two outs while coughing up two runs to get the Guardians within a run. He got tagged with the blown save and was ultimately charged with three runs, but luckily Starling Marte’s clutch home run helped the Mets avoid a loss. It was an up and down week overall for Ottavino. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning with a strikeout in Tuesday’s loss, but gave up a go-ahead, two-run homer to Brandon Lowe in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s rollercoaster win. But he bounced back to pitch a 1-2-3 eighth inning on Friday night. Still, it was overall a net negative week for Ottavino, as his two blowups were costly. That’s the price of playing in a bunch of close games.
This week was also the first uneven week for David Robertson. He earned the win on Wednesday, despite allowing the go-ahead run in the tenth because of Pete Alonso’s walk-off bomb in the bottom of the frame. He allowed two runs in total, but was only charged with one because of the free runner. He then put up a clean sheet the following day, working around a hit to pitch a scoreless ninth and protect the Mets’ one-run lead for his eighth save of the season. He kept the good times rolling with a scoreless ninth inning in Friday’s extra-inning victory, pitching for the third day in a row. But then he followed Ottavino in the eighth inning of Game 1 yesterday and allowed a go-ahead, two-run homer to José Ramirez. Starling Marte’s home run bailed Robertson out though and he came back out and pitched a scoreless ninth, earning the win despite mixed results. Robertson may have looked human this week, but he still holds a 1.27 ERA for the season.
Drew Smith also faltered somewhat this week after a stretch of strong work. The Rays scored an insurance run off him in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s loss. In the tenth inning of Friday’s game, Smith allowed a go-ahead two-run homer to Gabriel Arias. Due to the free runner, Smith was only charged with one run. But if not for yet another Mets miracle comeback in the bottom of the inning, it would have been a back breaker. Instead, Smith earned the win for that performance.
Jeff Brigham had one mediocre appearance and one good one this week. In relief of Kodai Senga on Wednesday, Brigham allowed a solo homer to José Siri that stretched the Rays’ lead to 2-0 at the time. But he bounced back to toss a 1-2-3 eighth inning in relief of Megill on Thursday, earning his third hold of the season.