When two of the five members of the starting rotation get poop emojis, that is not a recipe for success. And indeed that is the case for the second week in a row, as poor starting pitching performances were the chief culprit in two Mets losses. The bullpen pitched pretty well in aggregate, but the mistakes they did make were costly, as the Mets played in a lot of close games this week. Put simply, if the Mets are to have any hope of turning this season around, the pitching just has to be better.
We’ll start with the aforementioned poop emoji performances. Max Scherzer kicked off the week by getting lit up by the Yankees to the tune of six runs on seven hits in just 3 1⁄3 innings on Tuesday. Among those seven hits were two home runs to Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu. Scherzer is giving up home runs at a rate of over 1.5 per nine innings, which is the worst mark of his career. After this rough outing, Scherzer’s ERA for the season was an ugly 4.45.
The other poop emoji this week goes to Carlos Carrasco, who had a similarly bad outing on Sunday, giving up six runs on five hits in just three innings of work. He too surrendered two long balls to Nolan Arenado and Paul DeJong. He struck out four batters and walked three in the outing. This is Carrasco’s second rough start in a row.
The kicker is the Mets almost came back to win both of these games, but lost by one run each time. Dominic Leone came in to relieve Scherzer on Tuesday and delivered a clutch performance, retiring the final two batters in the fourth inning and then pitching a 1-2-3 fifth as well. It was Leone’s best week in a Mets uniform; he tossed four scoreless innings across four games in total. He pitched a scoreless inning in Friday’s victory and retired one batter in Sunday’s game. But his best performance of all was on Wednesday when he kept the Yankees off the board in the top of the tenth inning to set the stage for the walk-off victory in the bottom of the frame. For that performance, he earned his first win of the season.
Josh Walker followed Leone and came on to pitch the sixth inning on Tuesday, but only recorded one out and gave up two hits. The go-ahead run would eventually come around to score and it proved to be the difference in the game. Walker’s other outing this week was much better; he pitched two hitless innings with three strikeouts to cap off Friday’s victory.
That strong performance from Walker came in relief of Tylor Megill, who had his best outing in some time, giving up just one run and four hits over six strong innings of work. He struck out seven batters in the outing and walked none. The only damage against him came in the form of a solo homer by Willson Contreras in the fifth inning. Otherwise, Megill was dealing and cruised his way to sixth win of the season.
It was Jeff Brigham who allowed the sacrifice fly that scored his inherited runner from Walker on Tuesday. It was not a good week for Brigham, who walked a batter and hit a batter with a pitch in the seventh inning the following day. Both runners would eventually come around to score, but luckily the Mets bailed Brigham out by walking it off in extras. Brigham had a better outing on Saturday, in which he recorded the final out in the seventh inning and then the first two outs of the eighth inning.
In Sunday’s one-run loss, it was Adam Ottavino who gave up the go-ahead home run to Nolan Arenado and in doing so he took his third loss of the year. Ottavino did, however, work around a hit to pitch a scoreless eighth inning in Wednesday’s extra inning victory. He also recorded the final two outs of the ninth inning of Saturday’s loss via the strikeout.
Ottavino wasn’t the only reliever to cough up a run on Sunday though; his performance just came at a less opportune time. John Curtiss, freshly called up from the minors, pitched in long relief following Carrasco’s abbreviated outing. He gave up a solo home run to Jordan Walker but nothing else over 2 1⁄3 innings of work. He walked a batter and struck out two in the outing. Curtiss also pitched two scoreless innings with two strikeouts in Tuesday’s loss. For this strong week of work, Curtiss was rewarded with a demotion to Triple-A.
Curtiss was sent down in part due to the fact that Drew Smith was suspended for sticky stuff in Tuesday’s game. Smith officially appeared in the game, but was ejected before he threw a pitch and Curtiss entered the game in his stead. The Mets are now playing with a pitcher short in their bullpen and therefore are forced to cycle their optionable relievers up and down to make sure fresh arms are always available.
David Robertson pitched a scoreless inning in each of the Mets’ one-run losses in what was another clean sheet for him this week. He worked around a hit to pitch a scoreless ninth inning on Tuesday to keep the Mets within a run. He also worked his way out of trouble the following day to keep the game tied in the ninth and help force extra innings. He completed his 0.00 ERA week with a scoreless eighth inning in which he only needed eight pitches to retire eight, nine, and one in the Cardinals order before inexplicably being pulled in favor of Ottavino in the ninth—a decision which cost Buck Showalter dearly.
With the Yankees having already scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error by Jeff McNeil in the seventh inning on Wednesday, Brooks Raley came in the game and though he was not hit hard, things didn’t exactly go well for him. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who reached first safely on the error, stole second base and advanced to third on Francisco Álvarez’s poor throw to second. Then Raley’s negligence of the baserunner bit him again, as Kiner-Falefa stole home on him to bring in the second run of the inning. Luckily the Mets went on to win the game, but it is always embarrassing when you allow a feat as rare as a steal of home to happen on your watch. Raley also allowed an insurance run to the Cardinals in the ninth inning of Saturday’s game, but bounced back to pitch a scoreless inning the following day.
Wednesday’s thrilling extra inning victory began with a pitcher’s duel between Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. Verlander had a very good outing, giving up just one run on three hits over six innings of work. He struck out six and walked none, going toe to toe with Cole. Hopefully this represents the start of a string of good outings for Verlander.
Meanwhile, after a good week last week, Kodai Senga was shaky on Saturday and took his fourth loss of the season. Senga struggled early, as the Cardinals put up three runs against him in the second inning. But to his credit, he did settle in and eventually managed to last 6 2⁄3 innings, really getting his ghost fork working later in the outing, ultimately striking out eight batters while walking only one. He gave up four runs in total in the start; his season ERA now stands at 3.53.