Justin Verlander and Taijuan Walker engaged in a tremendous pitcher’s duel, combining for 15.1 scoreless innings. The Mets were too eager to go to their bullpen and the result was a 2-0 loss to the Astros, giving the Mets their first three-game losing streak of the season.
After getting out of the seventh inning, the tv cameras showed Buck Showatler and Jeremy Hefner talking to Walker, presumably asking if he had anything left in the tank. Walker went out to the mound in the eighth, retired the only batter he faced and then Showalter took him out, bringing in Edwin Diaz, apparently for a five-out performance.
But the bottom of the eighth inning took a long time, due to a collision in the outfield that saw two Astros players leave the game. When the ninth inning started, it was Drew Smith on the mound. And Smith served up a two-run homer and that was all she wrote.
Two times now, Showalter has used Diaz in the eighth inning and not brought him back for the ninth. And both times the reliever who replaced Diaz gave up runs. Not a great sample size, sure. But not great results, either.
Walker ended up throwing 93 pitches. Maybe removing him with the top of the order coming up for the fourth time was the right call. But maybe by the end of June on a warm summer day your veteran pitcher should be in shape to throw 110 pitches.
From a purely theoretical point of view – would you rather go to war with your starting pitcher with an elevated pitch count who’s cruising or your bullpen? Showalter chose the bullpen and the Mets lost.