Astros meet the Mets again, and David Peterson's road to stabilizing the Mets rotation
Peterson has posted a 3.10 ERA in 11 games, nine starts for the Mets in 2022
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾
The Mets open a two-game set with the Astros on Tuesday night at Citi Field
The Mets enter play on Tuesday five games ahead of the Braves in the National League East and one game ahead of the Dodgers for the best record in the National League
Starling Marte (4th among NL outfielders) and Pete Alonso (2nd among NL first basemen) are in position to advance to the second round of All-Star balloting - the top two vote getters at each position and the top six outfielders in each league will be revealed Thursday, June 30 at 5 PM with the second round set to begin on July 5
Injury Updates 🏥
Max Scherzer (strained oblique) is set to make his second rehab start for Double-A Binghamton on Tuesday
Just Mets on Playback 📺
Our next live watch-along will take place on Tuesday night as the Mets face the Astros at 7:10 PM ET! Watch the game and interact with hosts Andrew Claudio, Michael Baron and Rich MacLeod live on Playback!
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (47-27) vs. Astros (45-27)
Where: Citi Field - Flushing, New York
Starters: RHP Luis García (5-5, 3.68 ERA) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (8-3, 4.42 ERA)
When: 7:10 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY, TBS, Playback
David Peterson went from afterthought in 2021 to rotation savior in 2022 📝
Do you remember the day back in late March when the Mets decided to showcase both Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer in an otherwise meaningless spring training game at Clover Park?
That was the last day both deGrom and Scherzer were healthy at the same time.
In what seemed like a moment later, deGrom was scratched from his follow up start with what was termed as shoulder tightness, which was later revealed to be a stress reaction in his scapula.
And in a blink of an eye, Scherzer’s hamstring went haywire, putting his status into question for opening day.
That’s when David Peterson’s status was elevated by the Mets, mostly because they simply had no alternative for their rotation and the Mets were staring at another long-term injury with deGrom and uncertainty with their latest major investment in their pitching staff.
But Peterson has provided anything but instability and uncertainty for the Mets in 2022, although when all of this went down at the start of the season, it appeared he was anything but stable and certain.
Peterson who turns 27 in September and was the Mets first round selection in the 2017 June amateur draft, was coming off a season during which he was both injured and ineffective. He made just 15 starts but was extraordinarily hittable, allowing 11 home runs, 64 hits and 29 walks with 69 strikeouts in only 66.2 IP in 2021, a far cry from the success he enjoyed in a smaller sample size in 2020 when he posted a 3.44 ERA over ten games, nine starts, allowing only five home runs in 49.2 IP that year.
So understandably, Peterson’s selection to the rotation on opening day seemed like an underwhelming choice, albeit the only choice for the Mets.
Peterson made his 2022 debut against the Phillies on April 11. Needing to build his innnings/pitch count, Peterson lasted only four innings but he allowed just three hits and two walks, instilling hope he could rebound from a lost 2021 campaign.
That’s exactly what he did.
Peterson went on to pitch against the Diamondbacks in his next two starts, and allowed just six hits and one earned run over ten combined innings.
Fast forward to Sunday in Miami, and Peterson delivered his best start of the season to-date, hurling seven innings while allowing just two runs in a no-decision, thanks to the Mets inability to provide him run support in a flat afternoon loss to the Marlins.
Peterson primarily depends on two pitches to be successful - his change-up and slider. He needs his change-up to fade away and for his slider to to have good 11-5 movement towards the back foot of right-handed hitters. To that end, he has seen improved vertical movement on his slider from last season and better movement overall on his change-up. His slider has become so good he’s getting nearly a 51% swing-and-miss rate on that pitch, a 14% improvement over last season.
0.7 home runs per nine innings in 2022, down from 1.5 in 2021. 7.4 hits per nine innings in 2022, down from 8.6 in 2021.
Or, more of what he showed in the pandemic-shortened season in 2020.
Simply put, it’s been all about his resurgent slider and change-up which he has brought to the table in the majority of his starts in 2022.
Make no mistake - Peterson is a pitch-to-contact left-handed pitcher and again, must have these two weapons working at full strength to be successful at this level. So far so good for Peterson in 2022, who has been a godsend for the Mets in the absence of both Scherzer and deGrom.
So, what happens to Peterson in a month, when presumably Scherzer and deGrom are finally in the Mets rotation together?
Well for starters, let’s get there first. But let’s say the Mets do in fact get to that point.
Assuming Peterson remains effective - and there’s every reason to believe he will - the Mets have a couple of routes to take. They can go with a hybrid five-man rotation and use Peterson to skip starts for Taijuan Walker, Chris Bassitt, and/or Carlos Carrasco, all of which will likely need breaks during the summer.
The Mets could also initially opt to piggyback Peterson with deGrom and/or Scherzer as the latter work to build their innings/pitch counts up over their first few starts back from the injured list.
Then of course there’s the bullpen option, which could actually make quite a bit of sense for the Mets down the stretch of the season.
Peterson has held left-handed hitters to a .195 batting average in 48 plate appearances so far this season, although three of the four home runs he’s allowed have been against lefties. Compare that to Chasen Shreve’s .294 opposing average against left-handed hitters and Joely Rodriguez’s .233 opposing average against lefties (which is ok, but certainly nothing suggesting Rodriguez can be truly trusted against the big left-handed hitters in the league), the shoe may fit for Peterson if he can adapt to a middle-to-short relief role quickly.
If nothing else, a trial in the bullpen ahead of the August 2 trade deadline would at least help determine a path in the bullpen market for them at worst, and perhaps give the Mets a viable and dependable solution to a problem down there at best.
One thing is for certain: Peterson has proved he belongs in the big leagues, whatever the role is.
Down on the Farm 🌾
All Mets minor league affiliates were off on Monday.
Around the League 🚩
The Yankees rallied from a 5-1 deficit to beat the A’s 9-5 on Monday in the Bronx
12 players and personnel between the Mariners and Angels received suspensions for their on-field brawl in Anaheim on Sunday
Bryce Harper could be facing surgery on his broken thumb
Chad Kuhl went the distance for the Rockies in a three-hit shutout of the Dodgers at Coors Field
The Mariners acquired 1B Carlos Santana from the Royals