When Spring Training started, it was a reasonable question to ask who the Mets’ best pitcher was. Jacob deGrom was in the midst of an historic season in 2021 but then got hurt and missed half the year. Most Mets fans consider deGrom as the best pitcher in the game but his injury issues had to be factored in this discussion because the team acquired Max Scherzer, who had been consistently excellent for a decade. Any slip from deGrom and Scherzer would be the guy.
But now that they’re both on the IL, who’s the Mets’ best healthy starter?
It all depends on what you value most. Chris Bassitt leads with 53 IP and a 9.0 K/9 while David Peterson’s 2.16 ERA and 1.000 WHIP is the best on the team. Carlos Carrasco is an inning behind Bassitt and he’s tied with Taijuan Walker with a 0.5 HR/9 as the best rate on the club. Carrasco also has the best BB/9 with a 1.4 rate. Here’s how they rate by fWAR:
1.3 – Carrasco
0.5 – Walker
0.3 – Bassitt
0.3 – Peterson
He has an extra start under his belt, but Carrasco has moved ahead of Scherzer (1.2) to lead all Mets pitchers in fWAR. For a pitcher who looked like he might be at the end of the line in 2021’s injury-marred season, Carrasco is showing us what he can do when healthy. In a year with no shortage of good stories, the rebound of Carrasco is near the top of the list.
JUST HOW DOWN HAS OFFENSE BEEN HERE IN 2022? – You hear people say it all the time – offense is down this year. People are quick to blame the ball but the abbreviated Spring Training and the bad weather months of April and May also play a large role. We may not be able to identify the exact causes and percent of each but let’s use Jeff McNeil to indicate how far offense is down so far. In 2019, McNeil had a .384 OBP and a .531 SLG for a .916 OPS and a 143 OPS+. This year, McNeil has a .374 OBP and a .466 SLG for an .841 OPS and – yes – a 143 OPS+. That’s 75 points difference in raw OPS and none in OPS+ – yowza!
OBSERVING OTTAVINO – For the most part, Buck Showalter has done a great job of making sure his relievers get regular days off, avoiding situations where a guy has pitched in three of the past four days, which was a staple of previous Mets managers. One glaring exception was when he used Adam Ottavino three days in a row, all against the Braves. The final outing was a disaster, as he allowed 3 ER without getting an out. Since that Braves series, Ottavino has pitched in nine games without allowing a run.
Relievers tend to bunch their bad outings together and for the most part it happens in a stretch of 6-12 games. From 4/23-5/4, Ottavino appeared in six games and in 5 IP allowed 7 ER. Before and after that poor stretch, Ottavino has 12.1 IP, 0 ER and 14 Ks. He’s been in 20 games this year and 17 of them have been scoreless appearances. He’s had two bad outings and one of them came when he pitched for the third straight day. He’s been an asset.
Click here to see an article from 2017, which details the bad stretches of 30 relievers who pitched at least 40 innings in a season for the Mets between 2011-17.
MARTE BLOSSOMS IN MAY – The top offseason acquisition for the Mets among position players was Starling Marte, who was coming off a 5.5 fWAR season. He got off to a slow start but one that was largely ignored due to how well the Mets were playing, along with a solid RBI total and good defensive play in RF. But Marte ended April with a .608 OPS, which was way below what was expected, even given the offensive environment.
But here in May, Marte sports a .326/.341/.500 line in 84 PA. Yeah, the hits are falling in for him but the .174 ISO sure beats the .094 ISO he had in April. It’s still not clear where he belongs in the batting order but it’s a lot easier to see him hitting second or third in the lineup while he’s pumping out an .841 OPS like he is here in the second month of the season.
A STORY FOR THE AGES – Baseball-Reference shows age-based splits and they break down into the following categories:
In rough terms, the first ones are your young guys, the second group is players in their prime, the third group is post-prime and the last group is the old guys. It’s shocking how the current 26-man roster for the Mets breaks down in age. Nick Plummer, who was just recently called up and is the 26th man on the roster, is the only player to fit in the first group and he’s 25. On the other end of the spectrum, only Ottavino falls in the last category, the only Met there now that Robinson Cano has been released and Scherzer’s on the IL. Which makes Showalter’s decision to make Ottavino appear in three straight games even more perplexing. Here’s how the Mets break down in B-R’s age buckets:
1st – 1
2nd – 17
3rd – 7
4th – 1
Ideally, you’d like more people in the first category but having 17 players in their prime is a really good place for a roster to be. Here’s how all Mets hitters, regardless if they’re on the roster today, have produced this season by B-R age buckets:
1st – 1 PA, .000 OPS
2nd – 1164 PA, .775 OPS
3rd – 624 PA, .683 OPS
4th – 43 PA, .501 OPS
In all MLB the OPS for the four categories are .695, .701, .687, .627 – so the Mets have more players age 26-30 and those guys are performing significantly better than MLB average.