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Mets Player Performance Meter: Pitchers, May 1-7

A quick review of how the Mets’ pitchers fared over the past week.

Colorado Rockies v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

As you can probably guess, this meter is not good. There aren’t a lot of positive things to say about the Mets’ pitching staff right now. The Mets’ staff ERA is 4.74. The Mets’ starting rotation ERA is 5.34, which would be the worst mark in franchise history if it were over a full season. Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander both returned to the rotation this week, which should theoretically be a huge boost for the staff. But, neither of them pitched particularly well in their first starts, though Verlander left far less to be concerned about than Scherzer. The problems the pitching staff is having are multifaceted, but can mostly be broken down into three main issues: they are giving up too many home runs, they are walking too many batters, and the starters are still not going deep enough into games, which means the parade of mediocre middle relievers are pitching a lot. There is not much that can be done at this point except hope that the Mets’ pitchers—particularly their high profile aces—turn things around.

We’ll start with Justin Verlander’s Mets debut on Thursday, which started off nightmarish, but ultimately ended up fine. He gave up back to back solo home runs in the first inning to Riley Greene and Javy Báez, but settled in after that and didn’t give up any more runs over five innings of work. Verlander struck out five and walked one in the outing and took the loss because the Mets were shut out by Eduardo Rodriguez. He didn’t quite look like an ace, but one hopes that this outing was a matter of shaking out the cobwebs and will be something to build upon.

Max Scherzer’s start the day before was far worse and far more concerning. The line is outright ugly: six runs on eight hits over 3 13 innings. Like much of the Mets’ staff (perhaps in part due to the baseball), Scherzer has been vulnerable to the long ball and he gave up two home runs in his start on Wednesday. He struck out three batters and walked one. Christian Romo wrote recently about the concerning trends with Max Scherzer’s fastball and we learned today that he may still be pitching hurt.

After Scherzer’s early exit, the newly recalled Zach Muckenhirn made his debut to clean up Scherzer’s mess. He did allow a single to score one of his inherited runners (charged to Scherzer), but then induced an inning-ending double play to avoid further damage. He then came back out and pitched a 1-2-3 fifth inning, so all told his debut was a success. But he was subsequently optioned back down to Triple-A Syracuse when Justin Verlander was activated the following day.

José Butto, serving as the extra man in the doubleheader on Wednesday, also pitched in relief of Scherzer in Game 2 before being sent back down to Triple-A the next day. Butto pitched 2 13 innings and gave up one run, striking out two and walking one in the outing.

John Curtiss came in to finish the eighth inning for Butto and allowed his inherited runner to score and another run in addition in his 23 of an inning of work on Wednesday. Like Muckenhirn and Butto, he was once again optioned after this outing. But, he had a slightly more successful outing in Game 1 of Monday’s doubleheader, in which he gave up a solo home run to Ronald Acuña Jr., but nothing else over two innings of work.

Curtiss needed to pitch two innings of relief on Monday because Denyi Reyes started the game, but did not record an out in the second inning. Reyes against a potent Braves lineup went about as poorly as you would expect; he gave up five runs on five hits, including two home runs over 1+ innings of work. He took the loss and gets tagged with the other poop emoji this week along with Scherzer. Reyes will continue the process of getting stretched out as a starter down in Triple-A.

Stephen Nogosek was activated from the injured list on Monday and threw 2 23 strong innings, allowing the Mets to get back in the ballgame. He allowed just one hit over that span. Unfortunately, his other outing this week did not go as well. With the Mets down by just one run on Saturday, he was once against tasked with long relief and gave up a backbreaking two-run homer to Ezequiel Tovar. It was the only hit he gave up over 2 13 innings of work, but it was a big one. He struck out four batters in that outing.

Nogosek was called upon in long relief on Saturday because Tylor Megill couldn’t make it through the fifth. Megill gave up a pair of runs in the first two innings, but then seemed to settle down. But Buck Showalter tried to coax him through the fifth and he wasn’t up for the task. He yielded a pair of one-out walks and then struck out C.J. Cron for the second out, but gave up a single to Elias Díaz that gave the Rockies the lead, which they would not relinquish. Megill took the loss for that effort. Megill’s other outing this week was better, but he still fell just short of that elusive quality start, needing to be pulled after 5 23 innings of work, over which he gave up three runs on four hits. He walked three batters and struck out four in Monday’s outing.

Drew Smith got the win in Monday’s Game 2 victory, relieving Megill and pitching 1 13 scoreless innings with two strikeouts and a walk. Smith is one of the few pitchers in the green this week, unscored upon across all three of his appearances. He tossed a 1-2-3 eighth inning in relief of Verlander in Thursday’s loss and worked around a hit to pitch a scoreless seventh inning in Friday’s victory, earning his seventh hold of the season.

That scoreless seventh on Friday came in relief of Kodai Senga, who was the only Mets starter to manage a quality start this week and is the standout performer in this week’s pitching meter. The one blemish on Senga’s performance is that he still is walking too many batters; he issued four free passes on Friday night. But he held the Rockies scoreless over six innings, giving up just two hits and striking out four batters. He earned his fourth win of the season for that effort.

David Robertson followed Smith in the eighth inning on Friday night to face the heart of the order, which is how Buck Showalter has been using Robertson more often than not. Robertson worked around a hit to pitch a scoreless eighth, striking out two batters in the process. He earned his third hold of the season by protecting the Mets’ skinny one-run lead. Robertson had yet another clean sheet this week, also pitching two scoreless innings in the Mets’ only other win this week in Game 2 of Monday’s double header to earn his sixth save of the season. He struck out four batters in that outing and walked none. Robertson now has a 0.63 ERA this season.

Adam Ottavino followed Robertson on Friday and pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn his fourth save of the season. He gave up a hit and struck out a batter. Unfortunately, Ottavino blew his other save opportunity this week, giving up a two-run single to Eric Haase that allowed the Tigers to take the lead in the eighth inning of Game 1 of Wednesday’s doubleheader, which was the start of what proved to be a terrible series for the Mets.

Joey Lucchesi started Game 1 on Wednesday and gave up four runs on five hits in just four innings of work. Like many a Mets pitcher this week, he gave up two home runs in the outing. He struck out a batter and walked none. Lucchesi was pulled on Wednesday after just 46 pitches so that he could start yesterday’s game on three days’ rest. He fared a little better yesterday, but not by much. He gave up three runs in four innings yesterday, striking out four batters and walking three. He also gave up a long ball in yesterday’s outing—a solo shot to Randal Grichuk in the first.

But, things really went off the rails for the Mets yesterday after Lucchesi left the game. Jimmy Yacabonis followed Lucchesi in both of his starts and had two very different outings. In Game 1 on Wednesday, Yacabonis was excellent; he twirled three hitless innings, allowing the Mets to get back into the game before Ottavino ultimately blew the save. He struck out three batters and walked none. His outing yesterday, on the other hand, could not have been worse. The Rockies put up a seven spot on the Mets in the fifth inning and the first five of those runs were charged to Yacabonis. He retired just one batter.

Tommy Hunter followed Yacabonis yesterday and allowed an additional three runs in 2 23 innings of long relief. He gave up four hits, including a home run, struck out two batters, and walked one. Much like Yacabonis, it was a tale of two outings for Hunter this week. In Game 1 of Monday’s doubleheader in what turned out to be a tight game that seemed lost early, Hunter delivered two hitless innings of work, striking out four batters.

Though Reyes’ rough start obviously did the Mets no favors, the Mets got back in the game, but Jeff Brigham allowed it to get away again. He gave up a devastating three-run homer to Sean Murphy—Murphy’s second home run of the game. He walked two and struck out one over 1 13 innings of work. But that was Brigham’s only poor outing this week in four appearances. On Thursday, Brigham pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning in relief of Justin Verlander. In Saturday’s loss, Brigham worked around a hit to pitch a scoreless ninth. And in yesterday’s lopsided affair, Brigham pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning with a strikeout.

The Mets acquired Dominic Leone this week to help bolster a beleaguered bullpen after he opted out of his minor league deal with the Rangers. Leone pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning in Thursday’s loss with a strikeout. He followed that up with another scoreless inning in Saturday’s loss, striking out two batters in the eighth inning. However, his first week as a Met ended poorly, as he yielded two runs in the ninth inning yesterday. However, the Rockies had the game well in hand by that point. The journeyman righty was a good pickup for the Mets, who apparently were vying with several teams for his services.