Carrasco was great, Lugo was not in a flat loss for the Mets
Carlos Carrasco has recorded 13 strikeouts in 10.2 IP over his first two starts
What’s Up with the Mets? 🐰
The Mets lost to the Diamondbacks on Saturday by a score of 3-2 at Citi Field (box)
Carlos Carrasco was fantastic in his second start - he didn’t allow a run over five scoreless innings, allowing just two walks with eight strikeouts
Seth Lugo struggled again - he allowed all three runs in the seventh inning
Starling Marte accounted for the only runs for the Mets with a two-run home run in the eighth inning
The Mets didn’t get a runner in scoring position on Saturday
Trevor May pitched a scoreless inning after sustaining a minor triceps injury last week
Mets starting pitchers have a 1.17 ERA over the first nine games of the season
Mets pitching recorded 16 strikeouts on Saturday. It was their league-leading sixth game this season with 10 or more strikeouts and the team's fourth in a row.
Jake Reed (oblique) began his rehab assignment for the St. Lucie Mets on Saturday - he started and pitched a scoreless inning
Steve Cohen does not intend to top the Yankees offer to pending free agent Aaron Judge this coming winter (New York Post)
The Mets honored Gil Hodges with a pre-game video, and held a pre-game press conference with his family along with Joe Torre
Carlos Carrasco is off to a strong start - he has allowed just one run in 10 2/3 innings pitched over two starts in 2022
Jeff McNeil had two more hits on Saturday - he now has four multi-hit games this season (.367/.441/.908 overall)
Starling Marte has two home runs and six RBI in his last three games
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (6-3) vs. D-backs (3-5)
Where: Citi Field — Flushing, NY
Starters: David Peterson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Humberto Castellanos (0-0, 6.00 ERA)
When: 1:40 PM EST
Carlos Carrasco was strong, but Seth Lugo was not on Saturday 📝
It’s hard to be down on the Mets given the 6-3 start to the year. Most things have gone well out of the gate and the club is off to as good a start as anyone might have expected.
The starting pitching has been phenomenal, albeit unsustainable. They’ve pitched to a 1.17 ERA over the first eight games and that is without Jacob deGrom and only two innings from Taijuan Walker. Their starting pitchers recorded 16 strikeouts on Saturday - it was their league-leading sixth game this season with 10 or more strikeouts and the team's fourth in a row.
Outside of Saturday, the bats have been generally fine - they’re third in the league in runs scored (46), fifth in home runs (11), first in on-base percentage (.361), seventh in slugging percentage (.421) and fifth in OPS (.782). They’re also averaging 5.3 runs scored per game.
These are all encouraging signs for the team, despite Saturday’s loss to the second-division Diamondbacks.
Carlos Carrasco’s encouraging start
Carlos Carrasco has been just what the doctor ordered in his first two starts of the year. He ha allowed just one earned run in 10 2/3 innings pitched over two starts with only two walks and 13 strikeouts to his ledger. And on Saturday, he didn’t allow a first inning run, something that had been an issue for him leading up to that start - he allowed a first inning run in his first start of the year thanks to a Nelson Cruz solo home run, and pitched to a 13.50 ERA in the first inning over 12 starts in 2021.
The clear adjustment Carrasco has made over his first two starts is increased usage of his off-speed pitches. Last year, he threw his four-seam fastball 40% of the time, but now he’s using it just 22% of the time with increased usage of his slider specifically - he’s throwing that pitch 27% of the time in 2022 compared to 20% in 2021. His change-up has also been an elite pitch for him over his first two starts, as has been the case for him throughout his career. But the increased dependence on his off-speed could be the result of noticeably reduced velocity on his fastball early in the year.
"You can tell that he fees good physically," Mets manager Buck Showalter said on Saturday. "He is attacking hitters and pitching like Carlos can. That development continues to bode well for us. He was solid."
All-in-all, Carrasco looks more comfortable on the mound, his delivery is smooth, he’s pumping the strike zone and the results have been there for Carrasco. He needed a strong start to the year after last year’s injury plagued mess, and the Mets needed him to step up with the early injuries to the rotation. Considering how his camp went, it didn’t seem as though Carrasco would be able to do that, but this is clearly what a healthy Carrasco looks like and can be for the middle of this Mets rotation.
Seth Lugo’s concerning start
The same cannot be said for Seth Lugo right now, who allowed all three Arizona runs on Saturday and has now allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings pitched on the year.
“Really have get ahead of guys,” Lugo explained after the loss. “I thought I made some good pitches, a call didn’t go my way. I fell behind a couple of guys. Really just stay on the attack. That’s a really important part of pitching. I fell behind Alcantara and he hit a 2-0 home run. You get ahead 0-2, it’s a different ballgame.”
Lugo is 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA in five relief appearances to start the year. He was square in the middle of another late-game bullpen implosion last week against the Phillies when he allowed two runs in a five-run eighth inning to blow a 4-0 lead.
“Couple losses late in the game, which we don’t want to happen,” Lugo said.
10 of the 24 pitches Lugo threw on Saturday was his curveball - he induced two swings-and-misses on that pitch. His velocity was a tick down overall, specifically on his fastball which was below 94 mph and that proved costly when he allowed a two-run home run to Sergio Alcantara on a fastball down the middle.
But it’s the crispness and command of his curveball which just hasn’t been there for him to start the year. He still has elite movement on that pitch, so the stuff is definitely there for him. But he’s clearly struggling with the feel and consistency of that pitch which is resulting in fewer strikes and fewer swings and misses against a pitch he has historically leaned heavy on for success. Instead, he’s falling behind with it rather than getting ahead, forcing him into fastball counts and into a weaker position for him since he can’t use his best pitch to be aggressive.
The Mets bullpen is the obvious weak link on the roster, but that assumed Lugo would rebound and at least provide a stable bridge to Edwin Díaz. Like last year, he is the lynchpin in the bullpen but his inability to be consistent since last year has resulted in a shuffling of the deck of sorts in the later innings. Adam Ottavino and Trevor May can certainly help navigate the later innings from the right side but ultimately, Lugo and the Mets have to find the path they’ve gotten away from for the Mets to be able to withstand late-game pressures and close the door.
Lastly, happy easter and happy passover to all who celebrate…
Down on the farm 🌾
AAA: The Syracuse Mets (1-9) continued to struggle on Saturday, routed by the Columbus Clipper 10-1 at NBT Stadium. Khalil Lee accounted for the only extra-base hit of the game (box)
AA: The Binghamton Rumble Ponies (2-5) fell down early to the Bowie Bay Sox and never recovered, losing 6-2 at Mirabito Stadium on Friday night. Johneshwy Fargas had two hits as he continued his strong start for Binghamton (box)
High-A: The Brooklyn Cyclones (4-3) defeated Jersey Shore 4-3 on Saturday in Coney Island. JT Schwartz had two hits and José Chacin gave the Cyclones five strong innings (box)
Single-A: The St. Lucie Mets (6-2) edged the Clearwater Thrashers 5-4 at Clover Park on Saturday. St. Lucie recorded just three hits, one of which was from top prospect Alex Ramirez who has hit in all seven of the games he’s played in and is hitting .517/.563/.759 to start the year
Around the League 🚩
Nationals superstar Juan Soto hit a home run out of PNC Park and into the Allegheny River, although the Nationals lost to the Pirates 6-4 in Pittsburgh
Justin Verlander and the Astros blanked the Mariners 4-0 as Verlander reached the 3000 IP plateau
Shohei Ohtani homered, drove in three runs and scored three times in the Angels 7-2 win over the Rangers in Arlington
The Yankees put up four runs in the fifth inning and Josh Donaldson hit his first home run in the year in a 5-2 win over the Orioles in Baltimore