Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and Chris Bassitt all had at least one thing in common this season: they each blew some of the Mets’ biggest games in at least half a decade. Scherzer and Bassitt even did it twice in a row. It was about as disastrous an outcome as could be expected for a season in which the Mets won over 100 games for only the fourth time in their history.

After Scherzer’s second implosion against San Diego in the Wild Card series, and even following the stay of execution provided by deGrom in between, we all kind of knew before the final game that Bassitt was going to blow it didn’t we? As the season circled down the drain while the Padres knocked Bassitt out after four innings, it all felt oddly inevitable.

This led me to wonder if the feeling of foreboding before the big game was standard Mets fandom pessimism, or if the thought that Bassitt wouldn’t perform well against a quality team was based on an underlying understanding of his track record without actually having referenced relevant statistics beforehand. Did Bassitt actually perform well against quality opponents during the season? Quality, in this case, is defined as opponents with a record at or above .500.

As it turns out, we can answer this question rather easily via Baseball Reference’s player splits statistics. Below you’ll find a table with a succinct summary of how the Mets’ starting pitchers fared against opponents at or above .500 and those below it this season. Please note that the Mets had eleven pitchers start at least one game in 2022, though I’ve limited the information below to only those with a realistic shot at starting the 2023 season as a member of the rotation.

Name GS tOPS+ <.500 tOPS+ >=.500 sOPS+ <.500 sOPS+ >=.500
Chris Bassitt 30 83 114 76 94
Taijuan Walker 29 76 131 71 111
Carlos Carrasco 29 91 114 109 121
Max Scherzer 23 95 103 64 60
David Peterson 19 97 105 104 101
Jacob deGrom 11 125 71 70 23

A quick primer on the tOPS+ and sOPS+ stats: tOPS+ is relative to that player’s total OPS+ against them for the season while sOPS+ is relative to the league’s split OPS+. In both cases, a number greater than 100 is worse while below 100 is better.

Logic dictates that pitchers, no matter how generally good they are, would naturally have worse numbers against better teams. This is basically the case across the board in the table above, but some pitchers clearly have more pronounced splits when compared to their own OPS+ and/or compared to the league.

Bassitt and Walker are the biggest culprits in terms of tOPS+, but interestingly Bassitt is still above average against quality teams compared to the league while Walker’s performance matched the eye test. He tended to dominate against weaker opposition while wilting against the league’s best. The numbers for deGrom and Megill are skewed due to small sample sizes with deGrom’s terrible outing in Oakland the biggest culprit for his splits. Scherzer is just an animal all around.

Despite the ups and downs, the Mets’ rotation fWAR of 15.9 was fifth best in the majors. The team is potentially looking at all of Walker, Bassitt, and deGrom becoming free agents, and they have a looming decision on a $14 million club option for Carrasco. That’s three of the team’s top four starters in terms of games started for them in 2022.

Even considering two final performances that will likely place Bassitt on the wrong side of Mets’ history, it would seem to make sense to try and bring him back to fill out a rotation with so many question marks. In contrast, it doesn’t necessarily make sense for the team to pick up that $14 million option on Carrasco if they think they can get a similar performance for less. Walker will be looking for a major payday after essentially resurrecting his career with the team, but the Mets may be better off going with Peterson or Megill to fill that spot.

It’s sure to be an active and fascinating offseason in Queens, but if you were the Mets how would you handle what could effectively be a full rebuild of the rotation?

5 comments on “Mets’ rotation uneven against quality opponents

  • Rob.Rogan

    In case you were wondering, Scherzer’s career tOPS+ split is 100/100, because of course it is.

  • MikeW

    The series against the Padres really felt like the World Series against the Royals. I began to feel a fans hatred towards them, especially Musgrove. The pitching was a huge disappointment when they needed a great performance the most.

    The opposite occurred when the Yankees won three World Series in a row. It felt like the whole team went into a hyper win mode.

    I just hope that Scherzer isn’t going into late career mediocrity now. We still owe him two years pay.

    The price would be astronomical, but the best fit for what the Mets need is one player, Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani solves the problem of a second stud (younger) pitched and DH. Yes, that would mean trading the fa for him, but he is a once in a lifetime talent. They could afford to extend him, because deGrom would be overpaid somewhere else and after next season Scherzer would have only one year left on his contract.

    Sign Rodon and Scherzer, Ohtani and Rodon would be a great 1,2,3 punch.

    I don’t know, but I feel there is something missing with this team. I don’t want to rebuild the whole team in the image of what it was this past season.

    I am grateful for 101 wins and a playoff birth, but really disappointed in their quick exit in the playoffs.

    • Rob.Rogan

      Yeah I have big concerns with the rotation at the moment. Will be interesting to see how the team handles it this offseason.

  • JamesTOB

    Rob, it may well be my age, but I didn’t understand the data that you posted. would you give a couple of examples for each of the categories listed so that analytically-challenged people like me could understand the data? I’d appreciate it and I suspect there are some others who would also. Thanks, James

    • Rob.Rogan

      Hey, James! Absolutely!

      So the base stat for this is OPS+, or on-base plus slugging normalized to make it easier to compare players against each other. A 100 OPS+ is league average, and whether higher or lower is better depends on if we’re talking about a pitcher or a batter. For batters, higher than 100 is better. For pitchers, lower than 100 is better (because it defines the OPS+ *against* that pitcher).

      What the numbers represent is each pitcher’s OPS+ against teams below .500, and teams above .500. tOPS+ compares the pitcher against his own baseline OPS+ and sOPS+ compares him against the rest of the league. For example:

      Name tOPS+ =.500 sOPS+ =.500
      Bassitt 83 114 76 94

      The tOPS+ numbers above show that Bassitt performed much worse (114) against teams equal to or better than .500 than he did against teams below .500 (83). This is all relative to his baseline performance, but it shows that there is definitely a difference in his results between good and bad teams.

      The sOPS+ numbers show the same pattern, but since both of those numbers are below 100 (76 and 94), he still performed better across the board that the league average.

      He performed worse against quality teams, but he still was better than league average essentially.

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