Other than Max Scherzer’s pretty mediocre performance on Sunday, there really isn’t too much to complain about when it comes to the final pitching meter of the first half—especially compared to what some of these meters looked like earlier in the season. The pitching staff did enough for each game to be winnable, but the bats went cold over the weekend. The highlights this week were the performances of Kodai Senga and Carlos Carrasco, the latter of whom pitched his finest game of 2023 so far in his final start of the first half.
We’ll start with Carlos Carrasco’s incredible performance against the Diamondbacks on Thursday in which he shut down a very solid lineup for eight brilliant innings and helped the Mets complete the sweep. He yielded just three hits and struck out four batters while walking only one, keeping his pitch count low, which enabled him to go deep into the game. The Mets provided him with plenty of run support and he cruised his way to his third win of the season. It was by far Carrasco’s best game of 2023 and there is no question he earns the fireball for that performance.
Trevor Gott—acquired in the Eduardo Escobar trade—made his Mets debut in relief of Carrasco on Thursday, working around a hit to pitch a scoreless ninth inning and secure the victory for the Mets. Gott also pitched a scoreless ninth inning in Saturday’s loss, striking out one batter in that outing.
Kodai Senga also went eight innings in his start this week. He did not pitch a shutout, but he did strike out a whopping twelve batters and also earns the fireball. It appeared as if he was heading for a tough luck loss, but Francisco Alvarez and Mark Canha’s heroics in the ninth got him a well-earned victory instead. The only damage off Senga was a solo homer by Christian Walker in the seventh inning. Otherwise, he was untouchable, giving up just four hits in total. For his impressive first half, Senga earned the All Star nod as a replacement on the National League roster.
David Robertson pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning in relief of Senga after the Mets came from behind in the top of the inning to take the lead, earning his twelfth save of the season. Robertson also earned a save the night before when things got rocky for Drew Smith in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s contest, recording the final out of that game, but not before allowing some base runners of his own. Robertson’s third outing of the week produced some agita, but he and the Mets still came through on top. After the Mets pulled off a thrilling four-run top of the tenth inning in San Diego on Friday, Robertson came in to finish the game and gave up a two run homer to Manny Machado to get the Padres within striking distance (only one of the runs was earned, as the free runner was in effect), but still got through the inning with the lead in tact.
Friday’s exciting win started with a solid, but not spectacular performance from Justin Verlander, who went toe-to-toe with Yu Darvish and yielded the same number of runs (3), but outlasted Darvish, going six innings to Darvish’s five. Only two of the three runs against Verlander were earned, as the Mets played some sloppy defense behind him. That said, he still dealt with a decent amount of traffic on the base paths, giving up five hits and walking three batters over his six innings of work while striking out only two. But, he gave the Mets enough to win the game.
Brooks Raley came in the game on Friday in the seventh inning to replace Verlander and was lucky not to be charged with a run in that outing. With one out, he gave up a double to Ha-Seong Kim, but Tommy Pham deked Kim into going to third and threw him out. If not for that bit of heads up defense from Pham, Kim would have scored, as Juan Soto followed with a double. Raley was then removed from the game and Soto did not come around to score, so he maintained his clean sheet for the week. Raley’s other outing this week went more smoothly, though it wasn’t without any bumps. Raley pitched a scoreless seventh inning in Tuesday’s victory despite two walks to earn his seventeenth hold of the season.
Adam Ottavino immediately followed Raley on both of those days. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning on Tuesday with two strikeouts to earn his tenth hold of the season. He then bailed out Raley by stranding Juan Soto at second base in the seventh inning on Friday, retiring Fernando Tatis Jr. on a lineout to end the inning. He went on to work around a walk to pitch a scoreless eighth inning as well.
It was Drew Smith who ultimately earned the victory on Friday for pitching a scoreless ninth inning before the Mets took the lead in the top of the tenth and held it in the bottom of the tenth. It was his fourth win of the season. Unfortunately, his other outing last week did not go as well. Tasked with protecting a four-run lead in the ninth on Tuesday, Smith almost let it get away and needed to be bailed out by Robertson, but the Mets managed to hold on with just the one run scoring, which was charged to Smith.
Max Scherzer earned his eighth win of the season on Tuesday, though he allowed three home runs in the process. It was a typical Scherzer start in which he was too prone to the long ball, but also struck out nine batters and limited the damage to four runs over six innings. It’s Scherzer’s outing on Sunday, however, that earned him the down arrow for the week. He took his third loss of the season, giving up five runs on six hits over five innings of work. He struck out seven and walked three and gave up two more long balls. Of course, the Mets didn’t give him nearly as much run support on Sunday, but it was still a mediocre performance overall.
T.J. McFarland did not cover himself in glory on Sunday either in relief of Scherzer in the sixth. It’s true that he should have gotten his first batter out because Francisco Alvarez dropped a foul pop-up. But he subsequently gave up a double to Gary Sánchez, bounced back to strike out Rougned Odor, but then allowed a single to plate a run (which was unearned because of the aforementioned error by Alvarez), another single, and a walk before being removed from the game.
Grant Hartwig replaced McFarland and stopped the bleeding by getting Fernando Tatis Jr. to ground into a double play to end the inning—though the damage was already done by Scherzer at that point. Hartwig went on to pitch a scoreless seventh inning as well. It was a good week for Hartwig, who also pitched a scoreless seventh inning with a strikeout in Saturday’s loss.
Dominic Leone also pitched in both games over the weekend and went unscored upon in both outings. He recorded the final two outs of the sixth inning on Saturday and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning with two strikeouts on Sunday.
Leone finished the sixth inning on Saturday for David Peterson, who pitched fine, but ultimately was given no run support, as Blake Snell shut down the Mets. Peterson had a rough second inning in which the Padres dropped a three spot on him, which included a two-run homer by Matthew Batten, who was making his 2023 debut. Peterson settled in after that though, giving up just the three runs over 5 1⁄3 innings of work and striking out an impressive seven batters. But three runs was all the Padres would need to hand Peterson his seventh loss of the season. With José Quintana’s return looming, Peterson will likely be sent back down the minors for now.