Mets Heading to San Diego With Momentum
Metsies close out solid series win in Arizona with eyes on the Friars
Entering his start on Wednesday in Phoenix, David Peterson needed to rediscover the form that brought him into the eighth inning in Tampa a few weeks back. Wasn’t to be.
Inconsistency has been the 25-year-old’s biggest hurdle this season. Well, that and his slider.
Last season, Peterson’s slide piece was the backbone of his arsenal, holding batters to a .119/.205/.254 line with a 37 percent whiff rate. Over his first nine starts in 2021, that pitch has been absolutely tuned up to a .313/.399/.563 slash.
His four-seam has been beaten up, as well, getting hit at a .263/.371/.553 clip after keeping hitters to a .534 OPS (weighted OBA) last year.
It’s not getting damaged to the same extent as his slider, but when a pitcher’s foundation begins to crumble, the rest of the structure is coming down with it.
Peterson’s sinker has become a weapon this season (.218/.317/.364, 34.8 percent usage compared to .368/.421/.474, 15.8% in 2020), but, again, unless your name is Mariano Rivera (or Bartolo Colon), one effective pitch won’t get you too far in this league.
The left-hander has seen his hard-hit rate (33.3% in 2020, 40.0% in 2021) and barrel rate (7.2% to 11.3%) take hits this season but has made strides in his strikeout rate (19.5% to 26.6%) and his groundball percentage (52.2% from 44.9%) this year.
There are certainly points of progress but not enough to justify Peterson remaining in the Mets’ rotation if/when that bridge is ready to be crossed, whether via injured hurlers returning or external additions made.
Wednesday’s performance certainly did him no favors in that regard. Just gotta hope he finds his way.
After being gift-wrapped an easy day at the office with a four-run outburst in the first courtesy of six consecutive hits to start the Mets’ afternoon including a clobbered three-run blast off the bat of James McCann, Peterson gave it all back, plus one, in the bottom half.
Three walks, a two-run homer via Ketel Marte, a base hit from Christian Walker, and a two-run hit Ildemaro Vargas ended Peterson’s day after just one out recorded, increasing his ERA to 5.89 on the season.
Adjust and adapt. Keep it moving.
Robert Gsellman, who spelled Peterson with one out in the first, made it through the fourth without a run to his credit. Precisely the pick-me-up this team needed at that point in time. Truthfully, the 27-year-old’s been doing this all year.
Gsellman’s been outstanding this season, allowing just one home run over his first 12 appearances in 2021. Following his three-and-two-third clean frames on Wednesday, his ERA is down to 2.42 on the year. Gotta like that.
Three straight hits to start the inning from Kevin Pillar, Dominic Smith, and Brandon Drury staked the Mets to a 6-5 lead in the top of the fifth and a trusty old compadre made his return to the mound in the bottom half.
Seth Lugo, making his season debut after having bone spurs removed from his right elbow this spring, retiring the D-Backs in order in the fifth.
The right-hander wouldn't work as smoothly in the sixth, but the necessary steps were taken in his first action back for Lugo to ascend back into his role as a game-changer in the Mets’ bullpen.
Lugo caught a huge break in the next at-bat, fielding Tim Locastro’s popped-up bunt, turning, and firing to second to catch Ahmed off the bag for a 1-6 double play before striking out Josh Reddick to end the frame.
Lugo’s curve averaged 3,254 RPM during his first action back and his four-seam and sinker both touched 95 MPH. Nice start, huh?
Adding Lugo to this already potent Mets relief corps (2.8 fWAR tied for MLB lead heading into Wednesday; 3.16 FIP tops in majors) could put this group over the top, especially if he can eat up multiple innings at a time. Huge development.
Villar exited with a tight right hamstring in the bottom of the sixth, per Wayne Randazzo on WCBS 880 AM, and was replaced by newly-added Travis Blankenhorn at third base.
That’s the last thing this team needs right now, especially with J.D. Davis essentially shut down after feeling discomfort while taking swings this week. Luis Rojas told reporters pre-game that Davis would not restart his rehab until he’s pain-free.
Miguel Castro set down the D-Backs on 10 pitches in the seventh and worked around a one-out walk in a scoreless eighth, keeping things knotted up for the heart of the Mets’ order in the ninth.
Having all these relievers with the ability to go two-or-more innings is gonna be such a luxury for this team down the road. Exciting stuff. Speaking of exciting…
Lindor shot a base hit past Arizona righty Joakim Soria leading off the ninth, easily stretching it into a double, and advanced to third on a passed ball.
Pete Alonso brought him home with a well-struck single through the left side to give New York a 7-6 lead.
Pete’s now 5-for-13 with three runs scored and five RBIs since returning from the IL on Monday. Polar bears have incredible carry capacity. Likely enough to put an entire baseball team on their backs under the right circumstances. Big if true.
Edwin Diaz, fresh off his first blown save of the season on Tuesday, got back on the good foot with a perfect ninth, securing a big series win before heading to San Diego for a long weekend (that sounds nice, actually).
Momentum is up, as is the Mets’ lead in the NL East. Just how we like it.
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