Heading into the break with two fireballs and no poop emojis and coming out of the break with no fireballs and two poop emojis is just about all you need to know to understand that the pitching meter has trended in the wrong direction so far in the second half. Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer continue to alternate good starts with bad ones and Carlos Carrasco put up a stinker this week. José Quintana looked okay in his return from the injured list, but the Mets still lost the game he started. David Robertson remains one of the only (arguably the only) reliable relief pitcher the Mets have and he will likely be gone by next week. New bullpen acquisition Trevor Gott has not covered himself in glory since becoming a Met.
Because the Mets have played nine games since the break, almost everyone in the rotation has pitched twice except José Quintana who made his season debut in the series finale against the White Sox on Thursday. He took the loss, but pitched pretty well all things considered. He gave up six hits over his five innings of work, but limited the damage to just two runs. He struck out three batters and walked none in the outing. Hopefully this is something to build on for Quintana as he looks to put together a strong second half.
Kodai Senga started two games, but it was really more like one and a half games since his start on Friday night was cut short by the inclement weather. He gave the Mets a quality start in the second game of the Dodgers series, the only run off him coming on a solo homer by Mookie Betts, which, you know, he does that to a lot of people. Senga gave up only four hits in total over six innings of work and struck out nine batters while walking only one. Unfortunately, Tony Gonsolin went toe to toe with Senga and the Dodgers bullpen bested the Mets bullpen in that contest. Senga’s line from Friday does not look very good on paper, but he was the victim of some poor defense played behind him and some bad luck. Overall, he remains very good at limiting hard contact.
It was Adam Ottavino who took the loss in the game Senga started in the Dodgers series, giving up the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. However, the rest of Ottavino’s outings in the second half so far have been good. He earned a hold for a scoreless eighth inning in Tuesday’s wild series opener against the White Sox that ended up being a lot closer than it should have been. And he also pitched a 1-2-3 ninth the following day in the rubber game to secure that victory. He also pitched a scoreless eighth inning in Sunday’s loss.
Justin Verlander started the rubber game in the White Sox series that Ottavino finished off and pitched eight brilliant innings, looking very much like vintage Verlander. The only run against him was on a Luis Robert Jr. solo homer. Otherwise, he cruised his way to his fourth win of the year, striking out seven batters and walking only one. The problem is, this outing succeeded one in which Verlander walked six batters, matching a career high. Though he limited the damage to just three runs over five innings of work, it was still not a good outing from Verlander and he took the loss for that effort. To be fair though, the Mets were shut out in that game.
Max Scherzer has also had one good outing and one poor one since the break—a pattern that has persisted for both Scherzer and Verlander all season. The Mets managed to pull out an extra inning victory in the series finale against the Dodgers thanks in part to the efforts of Scherzer, who threw seven shutout innings in that game. He walked three batters and struck out six in the outing. But then he followed that with Saturday night’s performance against the Red Sox, in which he surrendered four home runs—matching a career high. Up until the sixth, it was just three solo shots, but in the sixth inning he allowed a two-run bomb, which eliminated the possibility of the quality start. The Mets ultimately had a rally in the ninth inning that fell short and it was partially because Scherzer put the game too far out of reach.
However, Scherzer isn’t the only culprit in that loss. The Red Sox piled on against Trevor Gott after Scherzer left the game and opened up a margin that was ultimately too large for the Mets to overcome. Gott recorded only one out and allowed three runs. Gott was also the reason the series finale against the Dodgers went into extra innings in the first place, as he surrendered the tying run in the eighth inning—also in relief of Scherzer. But that is not the end of Trevor Gott’s woes in this second half so far. Oh, no. Gott failed to record an out at all in the series opener against the White Sox in which the Mets almost let a massive lead get away. The White Sox put up five runs in the seventh inning and the Mets held out to win a game in which they scored double digit runs by a skinny run. I suppose it’s worth mentioning that Gott did pitch a scoreless inning in Sunday’s game, but that does not even come close to making up for the rest of his nonsense of late.
That chaotic White Sox series opener was started by Carlos Carrasco—the other poop emoji recipient this week—who pitched poorly, nearly completely squandering a five-run lead he was handed in the very first inning. He gave up four runs on six hits through 4 2⁄3 innings of work. But that still wasn’t as bad as his performance on Sunday in which he got completely shelled, giving up five runs on ten hits and was knocked out with one out in the third inning. Carrasco’s last start before the break was his best of the season and Sunday’s start was his worst.
Though Gott was the primary poor reliever performance in Tuesday’s wild affair, he was not the only one. Grant Hartwig ironically earned the win, despite being charged with two runs of his own in 1 2⁄3 innings of work. Hartwig also allowed some insurance runs to the Dodgers in the second game of that series, though only two of the three runs charged to him over 2⁄3 of an inning of work were earned. Hartwig did, however, earn the win for two scoreless innings of work on Saturday in the resumption of Friday’s suspended game.
The bullpen as a collective performed well on Saturday afternoon; the only run against them was charged to David Peterson—now relegated to the bullpen after Quintana’s return. Peterson worked himself in and out of trouble in the sixth, but then allowed a leadoff triple in the seventh that came around to score on a sacrifice fly. Peterson also allowed an insurance run to the Dodgers in relief of Verlander in that series opener. But, his other two outings were better. He struck out Andrew Benintendi in the sixth inning in Thursday’s series finale against the White Sox to bail out a struggling Drew Smith and then went on to contribute a scoreless seventh as well. Peterson also pitched a scoreless inning in Sunday’s game with two strikeouts.
It was indeed a disastrous outing for Drew Smith on Thursday. To be fair, the inning began with a fielding error by Pete Alonso, but Smith failed to put the inning to bed after that, giving up four runs when all was said and done, only one of which was earned. But it put the game out of reach. Smith also allowed a tack on run to the Dodgers in the ninth inning of that series opener, but the Mets were shut out in that game, which was well out of hand already at that point. Smith’s only truly clean outing in the second half thus far was on Saturday night when he pitched a scoreless eighth inning. On Sunday, Smith came in the game in relief of Carrasco after Cookie’s early exit and allowed his inherited runners to score on a single and a wild pitch before finally finishing the inning. He did pitch a 1-2-3 inning after that with two strikeouts, but the damage had already been done.
The final reliever in the parade of pitchers that pitched on Sunday was Dominic Leone, who gave up a solo homer to Rafael Devers in the seventh inning to extend the Red Sox’s lead to five runs, but it was hardly consequential in the actual outcome of the game. His first outing of the second half was a similar situation; he gave up a meaningless solo homer in the eighth inning to J.D. Martinez in a game the Mets lost 6-0. Leone also appeared in the other loss in the Dodgers series the following day, but only faced one batter. He came in the game after things got out of hand for Hartwig in the ninth inning and recorded the final out without incident. He also pitched a clean seventh inning in Thursday’s loss with two strikeouts and then earned a hold on Saturday in the resumed game for pitching a scoreless seventh inning.
Brooks Raley followed Leone in the resumed game and earned a hold as well—his 19th of the season. Raley also pitched a scoreless seventh inning in relief of Kodai Senga in the first game of the Dodgers series in what was a tie game at the time. In the series finale of the Dodgers series, after Gott gave up the tying run in the eighth, Raley came in and retired Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy to keep the game tied and help set the Mets up for their extra inning win. Raley came in to clean up Gott’s mess again in Tuesday’s win over the White Sox; he walked his first batter and then one of his inherited runners scored on a passed ball, but then he bounced back to stop the bleeding and retire the next two hitters he faced to finally bring that inning to a close with the Mets’ lead still in tact.
David Robertson is also in the green for the second week in a row. He pitched two scoreless innings and earned the win in the Mets’ extra inning victory over the Dodgers last Sunday to begin his second half. He then earned a save in Tuesday’s series opener against the White Sox. It was a shaky outing; he walked two batters and allowed an RBI single. But with the tying run in scoring position he got Tim Anderson to fly out to win that game by the skin of the Mets’ teeth. He then earned another save—his fourteenth of the season—in the resumed game on Saturday, protecting a one-run lead with a 1-2-3 ninth inning complete with a strikeout.
Josh Walker served as the Mets’ 27th man for the pseudo doubleheader on Saturday and appeared in the night game, coming in the game in the seventh inning after things went south for Trevor Gott. He allowed a single to his first batter, but then bounced back to retire the next two batters he faced.