David Peterson opened the year as a depth starter. Saturday night he allowed just 1 ER in 6 IP against the East-leading Braves to pick up his fifth win of the season, tops on the Mets. He pitched out of some trouble in the second inning, escaping without a run after starting the inning with two runners in scoring position and no outs. On a night where the Mets desperately needed a good outing from their starter, Peterson came up big.
Perhaps the most surprising thing of all was that Peterson delivered 10 Ks on the night. He became just the fourth rookie LHP for the Mets to post a double-digit strikeout game. The last one was by Hisanori Takahashi but as he was 35 years old and had already pitched for 10 years in Japan, he’s not your typical rookie. The previous lefty rookie was Pete Schourek in September of 1991 and the first one to do it was Jerry Koosman, who turned the trick four times in 1968.
Rarity of the feat by a Mets’ LHP aside, Peterson entered the night with 26 Ks in 36.2 IP, hardly the mark of a guy who’d you expect to put up a big strikeout night against a potent Braves lineup. Only one other time this year had Peterson reached at least four strikeouts in a game and that came against the Braves, too. In two games against Atlanta, Peterson has 12 IP and 18 Ks. In his other seven games, which includes one 4-inning relief appearance, Peterson has 30.2 IP and 18 Ks.
At times it feels like strikeouts for a pitcher can be overrated. Friday night, when the Mets’ pitchers gave up 15 runs, their pitchers combined for 12 Ks. Michael Wacha has a 10.61 K/9 and no one considers him a worthwhile pitcher. But it’s hard to imagine Peterson having long-term success with a K/9 of 5.3 like he has in his non-Braves outings this year. Hopefully Saturday is the beginning of a new trend for Peterson, one which he carries forward to his last outing of the year against the Nationals.
CONFORTO’S WACKY WEEK – Michael Conforto has played in every game this year and he’s been the guy that Mets fans love to see come to the plate. He’s hitting to all fields and because of that, he sits with a .335 AVG. It should be noted that Conforto also enjoys a .418 BABIP, which is 113 points above his career average in the category.
In his past seven games, Conforto has a .292 AVG but it’s taken a .538 BABIP to produce that result. How can that be? Well, Conforto has struck out in 11 of his 24 ABs in the last seven days. Despite the super-high BABIP, Conforto has a .705 OPS in this span. Contrast that to Robinson Cano, who has a .500 BABIP but a 1.172 OPS in the same time period.
In a time when the hits are falling in at a remarkable rate, it’s tough to see Conforto with a 37.9 K%.
SHREVE HAS BEEN A PORT – When people think about the 2020 Mets, they’ll mention how good the offense has been or how bad the starting pitching has been most games. What they never list is how good Chasen Shreve has been this season. Nobody did any cartwheels when the Mets signed Shreve but he’s given the team both quantity and quality out of the pen this year. He’s pitched two or more innings eight times in his 13 games and he has a sparkling 1.99 ERA.
And he’s done that even with a rough start. Shreve allowed runs in the three of his first four outings. Since then he’s thrown 14.1 IP and had a 0.63 ERA and a 0.907 WHIP. He’s limited batters in this span to a .465 OPS and he’s fanned 17. It’s gotten to the point where his availability in the game is as important as the closer. After sitting out the last two nights, Shreve should be ready to go if needed on Sunday.
THE WEIRD CHIRINOS NUMBERS – With Tomas Nido on the IL, the Mets traded for Robinson Chirinos to give them a veteran option behind the plate. He had a two-hit game Saturday night but his batting line with the Mets is an ugly .174/.174/.261 in eight games and 23 PA. Despite those lousy numbers, the Mets are 5-2 in games he starts. Clearly, he’s making up for his offense with superb defensive play. Well, not exactly.
With Chirinos behind the plate, Mets pitchers have a 5.49 ERA, almost a full run worse than Wilson Ramos and his 4.54 mark. Opponents have an .843 OPS with Chirinos calling the pitches, almost 100 points worse (.750) than with Ramos. Mets pitchers have a 3.0 K/BB ratio with Ramos behind the plate and a 1.7 mark with Chirinos. He looks good back there but in this case the looks have been deceiving.
PLAYOFF CHASE UPDATE – Before Friday’s games, we looked at the eight clubs chasing the last four playoff spots in the NL. Two days later things have gotten harder. The hope was that the Mets could tread water in the next six games and then clean up in the last series of the year versus the Nats. The Mets are doing what we hoped, splitting the first two against the Braves. But Philadelphia has gone 3-0 in the past two days, adding 1.5 games to the Mets’ deficit. Here’s another look at our eight contenders:
Marlins (25-23) – Went 2-1 and are now 27-24
Giants (25-24) – Went 0-2 and are now 25-26
Reds (25-26) – Went 1-1 and are now 26-27
Phillies (24-25) – Went 3-0 and are now 27-25
Cardinals (22-24) – Went 3-0 and are now 25-24
Brewers (23-26) – Went 2-0 and are now 25-26
Mets (23-27) – Went 1-1 and are now 24-28
Rockies (22-27) – Went 0-2 and are now 22-29
The Rockies were a long shot when Friday began and it would take a miracle for them to make the playoffs now. But they still have a chance to be a factor in the race, as they take on the Giants next. No matter how you slice it, the Mets need help and they haven’t gotten much in the past two days.