The theme of this week’s pitching meter is that the Mets’ key pitchers are starting to finally perform like it. The problem is that almost everybody else has not just been bad, but poop emoji level bad. The Mets had a couple of bullpen meltdowns this week and yesterday’s was the most epic—arguably of the entire season. Though Buck Showalter’s bullpen decisions—particularly in yesterday’s game—have been questionable, it is also demoralizing when no one outside of the three highest leverage guys can ever seem to get the job done on a semi-consistent basis. This bullpen probably did desperately need Drew Smith this week, who will return from suspension today.
We’ll start with by far the biggest bright spot on this meter, which is Max Scherzer’s performance this week. The Mets only won two games this week and they were the two games he started. His start on Monday was particularly excellent, as he limited a powerful Astros offense to just one run and four hits over eight brilliant innings of work. The only damage off Scherzer that day was a solo homer by Yanier Diaz. Scherzer struck out eight and cruised his way to his sixth win of the season. He also earned the win on Saturday for a quality start—two runs on seven hits through six innings of work against the Phillies. He also struck out eight in that outing, bringing his strikeout total for the week up to sixteen against just two walks. Not a bad ratio.
Monday’s win turned out to be a laugher, so Grant Hartwig made his major league debut in the ninth and he worked around a hit and a walk to pitch a scoreless frame. Hartwig has impressed in his first week in the big leagues. In Wednesday’s ugly loss, Hartwig came in the game after things imploded in the fourth inning and brought the inning to a merciful end by recording the final out and then went on to pitch a scoreless fifth inning as well, despite three walks, aided by an inning-ending double play. Then, he earned his first big league hold with two scoreless innings in yesterday’s game before things went south for the Mets.
Things imploded in the fourth inning on Wednesday thanks to a very poor outing by Dominic Leone, who took the loss, giving up two home runs across his 1 1⁄3 innings of work. Leone was charged with four runs in the outing. Leone also pitched in yesterday’s game and walked Trea Turner to lead off the fifth inning; Turner would eventually come around to score on two stolen bases and a throwing error by Omar Narváez and this brought the Phillies within a run at the time. But that outing wasn’t the issue for Leone this week. It’s his performance on Wednesday that earns him the poop emoji.
Leone isn’t the only one to blame for Wednesday’s loss though. Tylor Megill had a very rough outing, lasting just 2 1⁄3 innings. Over that span, he gave up five runs, four of which were earned. He walked four batters and struck out only two. After this miserable start for Megill, he was sent down to Triple-A Syracuse.
Justin Verlander pitched well on Tuesday, but took the tough loss, as the Mets were shut down by Astros ace Framber Valdez in Verlander’s old haunts. Verlander gave up four runs on eight hits over seven innings of work, striking out five batters and walking none. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
Jeff Brigham loaded the bases with two outs in relief of Verlander in the eighth on Tuesday, but managed to wriggle out of the jam. He was not so lucky yesterday. After Josh Walker loaded the bases with nobody out and the Mets up three runs in the eighth, it was Brigham’s job to clean up the mess and limit the damage. He actually did do his job, inducing a double play grounder off the bat of Alec Bohm, but Brett Baty misplayed it and no outs were recorded on the play. It was then that the real nightmare began for Brigham. He walked Brandon Marsh to force in a run and bring the Phillies within one. Then he managed to strike out Kody Clemens on three pitches. But then he hit two batters in a row to force in the tying and go-ahead runs and the rest is history. Brigham did also allow a single in the sixth inning of Friday’s game before recording the final out of that inning, which allowed an insurance run to score, but that run was not charged to Brigham. I thought about giving Brigham a poop emoji because the two hit batsmen with the bases loaded were indeed galling, but he was put in a very tough situation and if Baty did not botch the double play, Brigham likely would have wriggled out of the situation with the lead still in tact.
Josh Walker is the one that gets nailed with the poop for loading the bases with nobody out in the first place and failing to record an out. Walker also appeared in the Mets’ other disastrous game on Wednesday and pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning before thing got hairy for him in the seventh. He walked a batter and then gave up a sharp grounder that caromed off his leg, which he tried foolishly to throw to first and the throw went into the dugout, advancing the runner on second to third. That run would eventually come around to score (Walker came out of the game after being struck by the liner), but it was unearned due to the throwing error. Walker also only recorded one out in Friday’s loss, coming into relieve Kodai Senga and allowing a single, which scored his inherited runner, and issuing a two-out walk, which loaded the bases for Brigham, who also allowed an RBI single, charging Walker with a run.
Adam Ottavino came in Wednesday’s game to relieve Walker after Walker was hit by the line drive and Martin Maldonado bunted the ball just in front of home plate and Ottavino pounced on it and tried to shovel it home, but his flip was too high and the Astros went ahead by two runs. Ottavino was otherwise sparkling though, striking out three batters across the final two innings of the game. Ottavino also struck out Trea Turner in a key spot in the seventh inning of Saturday’s win and he recorded the first out of the eight as well, but he also walked two batters, necessitating David Robertson to come in for a five-out save.
And David Robertson did record the five-out save on Saturday, getting Bryson Stott to ground into a double play to end the eighth inning and then getting aided by another double play in the ninth to secure the victory. It was Robertson’s eleventh save of the season.
Brooks Raley began the seventh inning on Saturday, coming in to relieve Max Scherzer. He struck out a batter, gave up a single, and then recorded the second out of the inning on a fly out before yielding to Ottavino, who stranded his inherited runner by striking out Turner. Raley also pitched a scoreless seventh inning in Friday’s loss, completing his clean sheet for the week.
Vinny Nittoli—called up this week from Triple-A after being acquired earlier this month from the Cubs—made his Mets debut on Friday and pitched a scoreless eighth inning, working around a hit to do so. Nittoli also came in the game yesterday after everything fell apart for Walker and Brigham and managed to stop the bleeding, but it was too late at that point. Still, it was a good first week with the Mets for Nittoli.
Yesterday’s disaster began with a so-so outing from Carlos Carrasco, who gave up a solo home run to Trea Turner and just one other run over four innings of work. Buck Showalter could have perhaps pushed Carrasco for another inning, but opted to pull him after 78 pitches. He struck out five batters and walked two in the outing. Ultimately the results were decent for Carrasco, but he needed to go deeper into the game to earn a positive grade.
Kodai Senga took the loss on Friday and looked rough early, struggling with his control in the first inning. But, it was really the Mets’ defense that should have taken the loss rather than Senga, as two key misplays were responsible for the runs. Senga settled in after his rough start, giving up four runs over 5 1⁄3 innings of work, but only two of those runs were earned. Senga struck out six batters and walked three.