With the age of the expected starting five for the Mets, there was little doubt that David Peterson was going to get a few starts in 2023. We hoped that before the regular season started that he wasn’t going to be pressed into duty right away. Alas, the injury to newly signed Jose Quintana, which will sideline him for four months or more, means that Peterson receives a promotion immediately. The good news is that he seems more than ready for prime time.
A former first-round pick, Peterson debuted in 2020, when he outpitched his peripherals. He had the exact opposite experience in 2021, when his ERA was ugly but his peripherals, most notably his xFIP, painted a better picture. And then last year, Peterson appeared in 28 games, including 19 starts, and had his best season so far, with a 3.83 ERA, a 3.64 FIP and a 3.31 xFIP. Not many clubs could lose one of their starting five pitchers and be able to fill his spot with a player with a reasonable
shot of being a league-average hurler. Here’s what the computer models predict this year for Peterson:
ATC – 119 IP, 3.73 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 132 Ks, 11 HR
Marcel – 112 IP, 4.02 ERA, 1.295 WHIP, 118 Ks, 13 HR
RotoCh – 105 IP, 3.77 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 119 Ks
Steamer – 110 IP, 3.37 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 120 Ks, 11 HR
THE BAT – 114 IP, 3.94 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 120 Ks, 11 HR
ZiPS – 102 IP, 4.07 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 110 Ks, 14 HR
Even for a pitcher with just 222 IP in the majors, there’s a fairly strong consensus on what to expect from Peterson. The big outlier is Steamer’s forecast of a 3.37 ERA. Perhaps that’s due to the projection having him with 24 relief appearances. The next lowest ERA projection comes from ATC, which had Peterson making 20 relief appearances. On the flip side, ZiPS had the highest ERA forecast and that system had Peterson making 22 starts and five relief appearances.
In his 19 starts in 2022, Peterson had a 3.86 ERA while it was a 3.68 mark in his nine games out of the pen.
We know not to place too much emphasis on Grapefruit League action but Peterson has hurled 12 scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts in Florida so far. He had some trouble with walks his last time out but still managed to throw four shutout frames.
Many people considered Peterson and Tylor Megill as relatively equal as depth starters. But it seems likely to me that Peterson will get first crack, especially given that the injury happened to the only lefty in the rotation, likely giving the lefty Peterson an extra boost. Also, while fans love Megill, he has an ERA nearly a half a run worse than Peterson in their respective MLB careers. That’s a significant deficit.
One additional thing to mention about Peterson is that he had the same September swoon as his older rotation mates a season ago. After putting up three strong starts in August, Peterson put up three clunkers in September before being moved to the pen to finish out the season. In those three September starts, Peterson allowed 11 ER in 9.1 IP. And it wasn’t like he was getting beat by the league’s best, as he faced the Nationals, Marlins and Cubs in this stretch.
It will be curious to see what kind of leash Buck Showalter has with Peterson this year. If, say, Carlos Carrasco has a three-start stretch like Peterson’s September, it’s likely he gets a few more starts to turn the ship around. But will Peterson enjoy that same job security, especially if Megill is pitching well in Triple-A? It’s reasonable to think Showalter will have less patience with Peterson.
Still, when it comes to Peterson’s season-long output, my thoughts will be bullish. Here’s my totally biased forecast:
160 IP, 3.71 ERA, 1.294 WHIP, 170 Ks, 20 HR