David Peterson's strong start not enough as the Mets offense continues to struggle
The Mets have hit just .226 with a .378 slugging percentage as a team over their last 25 games
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾
The Mets lost to the Braves by a score of 4-1 on Tuesday night at Truist Park (Box)
The Mets got a solid effort from David Peterson who didn’t allow a run into the sixth inning, but a walk on a questionable call to Dansby Swanson was followed by a two-run home run by Matt Olson which turned the game around for Atlanta to give them a 2-1 lead
Seth Lugo allowed a two-run home run to Adam Duvall in the seventh inning
The Mets mustered just a run on five hits - three singles, a double and a triple against Spencer Strider and the Braves bullpen, leaving eight runners on-base while going 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position
The Mets lead is back down to 1.5 games in the National League East
Team President Sandy Alderson said the Mets intend to pursue a designated hitter and bullpen upgrade ahead of the August 2 trade deadline, although the costs in trade have yet to be defined (New York Post)
Francisco Álvarez - the club’s top prospect - is not being considered for a promotion to join the club yet (New York Post)
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (54-34) vs. Braves (53-26)
Where: Truist Park — Atlanta, GA
Starters: RHP Chris Bassitt (6-6, 3.94 ERA) vs RHP Charlie Morton (5-3, 4.21 ERA)
When: 12:20 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
The Mets need to find the 2022 version of Clendenon or Céspedes, and soon… 📝
Another day, another trial for the Mets offense.
This time, they were up against fireballing sensation Spencer Strider, who they did a good job driving his pitch count up, working deep counts and creating traffic against - they managed eight baserunners over 4 2/3 innings against Strider.
However, they were only able to scratch a single run across against him and the entire Braves pitching staff thanks to an RBI triple from Francisco Lindor in the fifth.
Ultimately, the Braves were going to figure things out at the plate and show off their signature power to produce runs. David Peterson was awesome on Tuesday night - he stymied Atlanta through 5.1 innings allowing just one hit until he walked Dansby Swanson on a questionable call, and then just tired out against Matt Olson, who hit a go-ahead two-run home run on pitch number 105 from Peterson, his final toss of the night.
Peterson has nothing to be ashamed of with his performance, of course. He was in there for one batter too many due to his pitch count. Understandably, Mets manager Buck Showalter was trying to squeeze one more batter out of Peterson - it was a lefty/lefty matchup and a quick turnaround today, and honestly, Peterson deserved the opportunity.
It just didn’t work out and unfortunately, two runs were too much to overcome on Tuesday night.
Back to Peterson for a moment.
What more can be said about his performance this season? He has kept this pitching staff afloat time and time again in the absences of Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Tylor Megill and even Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker at times. He has a 3.48 ERA as the lone left-handed pitcher in the rotation with his success built around what has really become an elite, back-foot slider and a dandy of a change-up which he’s been able to spot on the outside corners to both left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters.
He deserves to be a starter in this rotation, but in short order, assuming everyone else stays healthy, he is very likely to be bumped out of the rotation as the odd man out with the pending return of Jacob deGrom, who seems on-track to make his 2022 debut shortly after the All-Star Game.
Still, the minor leagues are no place for Peterson at this point. He could fit as their primary swing man along with Trevor Williams, depending on the matchup. He could unquestionably fit as a spot starter in a modified five-man rotation down the stretch, filling in for the likes of Walker and Carrasco at different times to preserve their stamina.
Of course, the Mets do have a need to strengthen the left side of their bullpen, and Peterson has held left-handed hitters to a .172/.262/.448 line this year (he’s allowed two home runs to Olson, which has inflated that slugging percentage). His ability to take to a specialty role remains to be seen, but Peterson can potentially be an asset in neutralizing power lefties.
That shouldn’t stop the Mets from pursuing such an option in trade, but as Atlanta has shown over the last year, a strength in numbers from the left side has merit late in games, especially in the playoffs.
Now, back to the offense.
I’m glad team president Sandy Alderson said it out loud - the Mets haven’t really been competitive out of their designated hitter spot this season, producing a .676 OPS between 11 different players. They’ve hit eight home runs from that spot, five of which have come from Pete Alonso. Their current tandem of JD Davis and Dominic Smith have combined to produce three home runs and 22 RBI as the designated hitter, with Smith producing none of that power and only seven RBI.
That lack of production was on full display on Tuesday night in Atlanta, but ironically it was neither Smith or Davis but rather Alonso who went 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts as the club’s designated hitter.
There is something about the designated hitter that just plagues Mets hitters.
Also, don’t forget Mets catchers have produced a .502 OPS and their third basemen a .636 OPS. That’s not good but not easily resolvable either.
In their last 25 games, the Mets have averaged 3.8 runs per game, produced a .378 slugging percentage and have hit .226 as a team. They’re 13-12 during that span thanks in large measure to their pitching staff, which has produced a 3.66 ERA over the same stretch of games.
They’ve also stolen just four bases in seven attempts over those 25 games.
Yes, this lineup currently lacks Jeff McNeil (paternity list) and Starling Marte (groin tightness). And their returns to the lineup will be a sight for sore eyes for sure. But the Mets absolutely need to address this glaring problem and find this year’s Donn Clendenon or Yoenis Céspedes to lengthen this lineup some more.
They needed another bat coming out of the lockout and did not procure one, and now it’s clear why.
With Max Scherzer and the pending return of Jacob deGrom, they will unquestionably have the makings of a championship-caliber rotation if both can stay healthy. It’s as good of a 1-2 punch since Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg carried the Nationals to their championship in 2019, which was as good as the Randy Johnson/Curt Schilling tandem that carried the Diamondbacks over the Yankees in 2001.
And that rotation and the chance to win a championship with two of the best pitchers in the sport has to be given the tools in the shed necessary to win.
Is that bat going to be available to them? At what cost in prospects? Is it one piece or in the form of multiple pieces? We will soon find out.
Down on the Farm 🌾
Thomas Szapucki (LHP, Triple-A): 6 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 8 K
Jesus Vargas (LHP, Double-A): 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Nick Zwack (RHP, Single-A): 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Around the League 🚩
The Orioles won their ninth game in a row with a 4-2 win over the Cubs - they are at .500 with a 44-44 record
Albert Pujols homered as the Cardinals edged the Dodgers 7-6 at Busch Stadium
The Reds put up a four-spot in the ninth inning against Clay Holmes in a 4-3 comeback win at Yankee Stadium
The depleted Phillies lost to the Blue Jays 4-3 in Toronto - they are eight games behind the Mets for first place in the NL East
The Rays pulled ahead of the Red Sox for second place in the American League East with a 3-2 win over Boston and Chris Sale at Tropicana Field
Reds RHP Luis Castillo is drawing widespread trade interest, but he is not closed to being moved (Athletic)